Over the past year, companies have fought hard to keep their businesses operating in the face of COVID-19. This challenge has been particularly significant for the restaurant industry, which relies on social gatherings and in-person meetings to make money. According to Business Insider, about 17% of all U.S. restaurants had closed permanently by December 2020, and the pandemic is unquestionably to blame.
But now, as the world reopens, restaurants are facing a new challenge: a lack of workers. Experts anticipate that many Americans across the workforce will not be returning to their pre-COVID jobs in the coming months – and for some, that is a deliberate choice.
Why People Are Leaving
Admittedly, a shortage of workers in the restaurant industry is not a new phenomenon. In May 2019 (eight months before the first COVID-19 case was reported in the U.S.), the American restaurant and hotel sectors had an astounding 991,000 job openings across the country. With nearly a million unfilled positions, the industry was already forced to reevaluate how it recruited and retained employees.
But then, the pandemic happened.
Over the past year, Americans from all corners of the workforce have had time to reassess what they want from their lives and their jobs. Some want more flexibility in their hours so they can spend time with their loved ones. Some want better pay or more generous benefits. Some want to pursue new fields entirely, following their interests to a job that might bring more personal fulfillment.
All this soul-searching has led to what economists are calling “the great resignation.” Up to 40% of workers – including more than 20% of restaurant workers are leaving their current industries permanently to look for greener pastures.
What Restaurant Owners Can Do
Restaurant owners are likely feeling a lot of pressure right now to make their employees happy. However, this is a unique opportunity for owners to invest in their employees and create a better working environment throughout their restaurant.
Proper training can help your workers learn valuable skills that will serve them in their restaurant careers. Expanded benefits like paid sick leave can give your team the freedom to take care of themselves (and this benefit can attract new talent). Simply giving your employees the support they need to feel heard and valued in the workplace can be instrumental in attracting and hanging onto your best workers.
“The great resignation” paints a bleak picture for employers across the American workforce, and the restaurant industry is no exception. However, there are signs of positive change; May 2021 saw 186,000 people rejoin the workforce in bars and restaurants. If those employers learn to invest in their workers through training and support, they will likely experience less turnover and a happier staff. SynergySync is the industry’s best training platform for your entire team. It includes digital checklists, a newsfeed for communication with your entire team, a library of forms, and the best operating practices, comprehensive FOH and BOH training videos, available in both English and Spanish. We are confident that our training platform will increase your revenue, save you money, significantly improve your operations, and dramatically improve the guest experience because your entire team will be in SYNC.