Jaimie Green, Human Resources Executive at GSR Brands.
Most people don’t know how challenging it is for those in the restaurant and retail industry to keep their businesses afloat. Despite being dynamic, it’s a tough job and depends on multiple internal and external factors.
Economic downturns nudge restaurant and retail business owners to pivot, shift their mindset and adjust to new trends and customers’ needs and demands. Restaurants are more likely to struggle with higher debt costs in unprecedented times, forcing them to lower their growth expectations or slow down expansions.
But for many, that’s not even the worst thing. According to Hospitality Tech, 74% of restaurants say their top challenge is recruiting employees.
After all, restaurants and grocery stores can survive financial crises, but having no people to work and sell products is another story. The pandemic has changed the game and brought recruitment in this industry to a different level of difficulty.
Here’s how the trends over the past two and a half years shaped this sector and made finding quality workers harder.
Trends Impacting The Restaurant And Retail Industry
1. Home Delivery
Food delivery services continue to shake up the restaurant industry, involving safe food handling processes, delivery methods and contactless transactions. Consumers expect faster delivery from retailers, encouraging them to develop more partnerships and increase their offerings.
2. Food Supply And Supply Chain
Restaurant owners face various issues due to supply chain problems, such as finding alternatives to plastic straws, cups and takeaway containers. They also struggle with increased food prices.
3. Online Work Models
People depend on technology more than ever, explaining the increase in online orders, contactless payment methods and the need for top-notch apps. Thus, many hourly workers have quit their jobs to work from home or have a hybrid work option.
However, this allows employers to find and hire candidates online, reducing recruitment costs.
4. Labor Shortage
The number of restaurant and retail job seekers has decreased in the past two years as people have higher expectations and don’t find work in this industry attractive or profitable. Many employees have quit due to low pay, lack of benefits, harsh conditions and obnoxious customers. Hourly workers are still dissatisfied with their jobs and wish their employers would do more to retain them.
Employers must understand where that unhappiness comes from and how to address it.
Why Retail And Restaurant Hourly Workers Could Be Unhappy With Their Jobs
People working in the retail and restaurant industries are frontline workers, many of whom had to work during the pandemic, risking their well-being and receiving low salaries in return. The industry also struggles with poor improvements in the equity landscape, as women report significantly lower base salaries compared with their male counterparts.
These industries have a relatively high turnover compared to others, with many hourly workers being young and only working part-time while studying or taking a gap year.
But most employees leave the restaurant industry for three reasons: to receive higher pay, to have a more consistent income/schedule and because they lack professional development and promotional opportunities. They also quit because they strive for greater flexibility, inclusion, equity, more exciting jobs, better introductory training and higher empowerment.
Here’s how business owners can attract quality candidates and promote retention.
5 Tips For Attracting And Retaining Retail And Restaurant Industry Employees
1. Use job descriptions as a marketing tool.
Restaurant and retail recruiters often don’t put enough effort into creating attractive, concise and creative job ads. But if you want to reach qualified and motivated candidates, you must dedicate more attention to this part and use it as a marketing tool.
Let people know why they should work with you, what makes your workplace different and what values your business fosters. If they notice that the employers are invested in recruitment and care about how candidates will perceive them, it’s more likely they will also be more invested in wanting to work with you.
2. Offer competitive hourly pay.
Many workers have left the restaurant industry due to low salaries. But life is becoming more expensive daily, and these employees deserve and demand a livable wage.
Your workers shouldn’t rely on tips to survive or pay rent. Analyze your expenses and budget and identify whether you can increase the hourly rate and by how much.
Even a small financial incentive can make a difference. Never cut back on employee salaries as your team is your most valuable asset.
3. Provide introductory training.
Restaurants and retailers often believe well-rounded training is unnecessary in their industry or that one day of teaching new employees how to use the tools and handle customers will do it. But many could leave the job due to inadequate training.
Moreover, restaurants can work to provide an extended introduction and onboarding. Prepare your workforce and empower it by ensuring they have the necessary skills, knowledge and confidence to work.
4. Highlight career growth and development opportunities.
Another mistake many retailers and restaurants make is not providing or explaining professional advancement possibilities. Frontline workers can still learn, grow and have meaningful and engaging jobs.
Let the candidates and employees know whether you offer L&D programs and internal mobility opportunities. Create options and platforms for your workforce to grow, continuously learn, reach higher positions and be motivated about staying in the restaurant industry
5. Unique perks and benefits.
Bonuses are always welcome, but hourly workers want to see that you genuinely appreciate them, care about their well-being and strive to give back for their effort. That requires personalized perks and benefits that show your willingness to go the extra mile.
The retail and restaurant industry culture is changing, and you must embrace it by keeping up with the current moment and considering ways to help your workforce and improve their life quality. Consider providing flexible schedules, additional paid time off, health plans, team-building retreats and retirement benefits.
Trailblazers exist in every industry, and they should inspire others to follow their example and make work more enjoyable and meaningful for their workforce. But you must be willing to demonstrate what makes you the employer of choice and continuously invest in your hourly workforce’s happiness, safety and development.
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