First we were shut down, then reopened with restrictions, shut down again, more restrictions...you all know the story. Restaurant workers collected unemployment, and many took the opportunity to leave the industry for good.
Now, at the tail end of a global pandemic when other industries are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, restaurants are still drowning and wondering if they will ever recover.
You’re not alone
If you are struggling in the industry, either as an owner trying to keep your doors open, or as a worker who isn’t making the money that you were used to, just know you are not alone.
This isn’t a direct quote, but when asked why he thinks restaurants are having a hard time finding reliable workers, he made a great point about how the COVID-19 pandemic made people really nervous about job stability in an industry that used to be pretty solid.
Knowing that one day restaurants can be completely shut down without any real warning took a toll on the workforce.
The Great Resignation
A newly-coined term, The Great Resignation refers to the millions of people who have quit their jobs over the course of the pandemic. The result is an acute labor shortage nationwide.
People love going out to eat, and they love being waited on. No matter how many scary articles about AI you read, humans will want to hold on to the full-service restaurant experience for the foreseeable future. That means plenty of jobs for servers, bartenders, hosts, and managers.
The biggest challenge that restaurants face now is rebuilding in a way that adapts to the current workforce attitude. Treating employees better, paying livable wages or making sure servers and bartenders are making appropriate tips (check out The Pros and Cons of Tip Pools) and providing benefits are a good place to start.
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The hardest part: Patience!
Patience is a virtue, blah blah blah...no one wants to hear it, I know.
The truth is though, patience is our only way out of this. The restaurant industry will recover. It just isn’t going to happen overnight!
Our culture is shifting, along with our customer base and overall the way we run our businesses. This is human nature, it’s just been put under a magnifying glass because of the pandemic.
So take a deep breath, look around your restaurant, and buckle down however you can to push through this last hump. If you have team members that you love, make sure they know how much you appreciate them. If you’re hiring new employees, give them the resources they need to meet your expectations before writing them off as “not a fit.”
Patience isn’t easy for anyone, but we have to come together and choose patience as an industry. We will come out the other side stronger and better than before, we just have to have some hope, faith, and patience.