Staff shortages continue to cause headaches in the hospitality and retail industry.
Consumers have likely felt it to some extent when traveling, shopping, or dining out during the peak summer season, due to longer wait times or the withdrawal of certain products and menu items. due to supply chain issues.
Some companies are reducing hours and or even capacity limits – not so much because of COVID-19 this time, but simply because they just don’t have enough people to do the job.
The effects of the shortage are considerable. In California, a restaurant chain tried to organize a job fair to find more workers, but only received three applicants. In Alabama, several Chick-fil-A locations have closed due to understaffing.
“I’m just curious about what’s next, because over the past 18 months we’ve had something new every month or so,” said the president of the Dallas-based family business. SSCP Management, Inc., Chris Dharod.
They operate hundreds of restaurants, including Applebee’s and Sonic franchises, and are also the franchisor of a few hundred Cici’s Pizza and Roy’s Hawaiian fusion brands.
“What’s really good is that we have a lot of business. We have people who want to eat with us and this is really the most important thing we need every year, ”he said.
He said after closures and capacity limits in 2020, staff shortages really started to escalate in the first part of 2021.
“Until the start of the year, we didn’t have enough business where staffing was too big a problem. And I’m talking to the industry as a whole. But as of about the first quarter of this year, every restaurant owner I talk to can use more people to help them and more team members in their restaurants, ”Dharod said.
It has become even more difficult since the summer when seasonal workers and students have returned to school.
The delta variant also adds to the situation as more people – and workers – test positive for the virus.
Many simply left the industry for other careers or for medical reasons.
“I think the majority has to do with the fact that there is more money out there, people have found ways to support themselves without a job or with different types of jobs,” Dharod said. .
To complete the seemingly endless list of pressures this year, supply chain issues are driving up the cost of products, food and ingredients, putting additional pressure on many industries outside of restaurants and retail. by retail.
“I heard that there weren’t enough truck drivers for distribution, so it’s those truck drivers who bring the products from restaurants and retailers to sell. And when there is not enough distribution there, it can cause the supply chain problem, ”Dharod said.
As many industry experts predict, he believes the labor shortage could last for quite some time.
“I think we have at least another six months of tough recruiting ahead of us, unfortunately. And that could end up taking us another 12 to 18 months, ”he said.
There is also a real concern that the last government vaccine order – which includes the obligation for companies with 100 or more employees to require weekly COVID-19 vaccines or tests – could push even more people out of the workforce.
“I think it’s incredibly unfair that they are asking companies to make sure that whatever they want gets done,” Dharod said. “But we are still quite new in this area. This mandate was just released about a week ago, we are still exploring and understanding better. It’s definitely another curve. “
Companies like McDonald’s, Target, and Walmart are offering higher pay or new perks to try to recruit and retain employees. But according to CNBC, more needs to be done to remain competitive in the labor market beyond just increasing wages.
Extended federal unemployment benefits ended last week there is therefore a hope of relief if these people enter the labor market soon.
Either way, Dharod said it was important for businesses to remain steadfast as the pandemic continues to deliver the unknown.
“Successful businesses solve problems. We have different issues every day, every week and every month, “he said.” It’s how we deal with these issues that makes business successful. We are ready for this and I am sure there is more change to come. “