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Though the first pandemic-related restrictions and consequences hit businesses over four years ago, restaurants continue to deal with long-term challenges. With huge fluctuations in consumer spending and added regulatory components to manage, restaurant labor pools were heavily impacted by Covid-19. The years of the pandemic saw significant layoffs and labor turnover, and the industry has spent the last several years on the path to recovery.

Subsequent inflation has further increased the labor crisis, and restaurant owner-operators have been challenged to navigate business operations and customer service with fewer staff or less reliable employees. 

Thankfully, the hospitality industry has seen positive increases in many facets of the business in the last quarter, and jobs are no exception. According to Nation’s Restaurant News (NRN), “Restaurants and bars added nearly 42,000 jobs in February, marking the sectors strongest monthly increase since January 2023.”

“According to data released March 8 from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the 3.9% unemployment rate is the highest level in the past two years,” NRN says; but the upside is, “Employment at restaurants and bars accelerated in February, with net 41,600 jobs added during the month versus a loss of 2,400 jobs in January. February marked the strongest monthly increase since January 2023 for the industrys workforce, illustrating a continued demand for both restaurant employment and usage.” 

Industry professionals view this glimmer of hope as the beginning of a longer trend to restore the health of restaurant labor. “According to a recent survey from the National Restaurant Association, 88% of operators, both limited-service and full-service, said they are likely to hire additional employees in the next six-to-12 months. The association expects the industry to add an additional 200,000 jobs this year.”

Restauranteurs should be prepared for growth in the coming months and staff their establishments accordingly. While some owners and managers may feel timid to hire in light of the labor crisis of the last several years, our restaurant consultants are very experienced to assist operators with techniques to improve your interview and hiring of qualified and committed employees. We have decades’ worth of success at selecting managers and other employees well-suited to the job at-hand.

Richard Weil, owner and principal of National Restaurant Consultants explains, “With many people are returning to the industry, operators can be much more selective. Utilizing job descriptions as well as an interview template format will greatly improve the hiring process.” 

Employers should also keep in mind that company culture has much to do with employee satisfaction and longevity within a business. Weil also notes, “The opportunity to clearly define your businesses culture and to be able to share that vision during the hiring, training, and most importantly, actual day-to-day operations demonstrates that your culture is not an event, but a daily process, and this will go a long ways in attracting and retaining staff.”

For more on creating company culture at your restaurant, visit our blog about how working culture directly impacts your employee experience.

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