Staffing is an ever-moving target for restaurants, even in smooth economic times. While the National Restaurant Association reports that restaurants have added jobs for 24 consecutive months, restaurants are still 3.6 percent below their pre-pandemic staffing levels. Hiring more people for existing roles may not even be the sustainable answer: A National Restaurant Association survey conducted in November found that 62 percent of operators say their restaurant does not have sufficient employees to support current customer demand – and 87 percent of operators say they will likely hire additional staff over the next 6-12 months if they can find qualified applicants. (That’s yet another challenge: 80 percent of restaurant operators say they currently have job openings that are difficult to fill.) However, that situation could easily flip in a different direction depending on the economy: The survey found that 57 percent of operators say they would likely lay off staff over the next 6-12 months if business conditions deteriorate and the U.S. economy dips into recession. It’s not a climate that makes it easy for restaurants to hire or appealing for applicants to apply.
Your tech stack – and your approach to filling roles – can make your operation more scalable and less susceptible to the ups and downs of the economy. If you’re in the position of posting difficult-to-fill jobs, what can make them easier to fill or less dependent on the right candidates? Are there opportunities for automating repetitive or dangerous tasks – or for overhauling existing roles so they can flex with the business and encourage staff to develop skills and stay for the long term? Are there tasks that currently involve more labor than they need to?