Reopening of restaurants leading to labour shortages

Published August 11, 2021

According to Restaurants Canada’s latest Restaurant Outlook Survey, conducted in early July, 80% of respondents said they were finding it difficult to hire back-of-house staff and 67% were having trouble filling front-of-house positions. For quick-service restaurants, the biggest challenge was finding food counter attendants, line cooks, and managers and supervisors. At table-service restaurants, the difficulty is finding chefs, cooks, and dishwashers.

With many foodservice businesses now reopened, the struggle to locate staff is creating a new perfect storm for restaurant owners. By its very nature, foodservice is very labour intensive. Finding any staff, let alone staff with applicable skills and experience, has become more challenging than ever. Even before the pandemic, restaurateurs were facing significant labour shortages. This is due to declining birth rates, an aging population, and two generations of young people, millennials and Gen Zs, who don’t behave like their predecessors in the workforce.

Looking ahead over the next year, 42% of restaurants expect the number of unfilled positions to increase: up to as high as 50% for quick-service restaurants vs 39% for table-service restaurants. Across all segments, roughly four in 10 respondents were unsure if the number of unfilled positions would improve or get worse. 

Restaurant owners are looking at a variety of options to address these labour shortages, including: 

  • Offering benefits like health and/or dental 
  • Free meals 
  • Flexible work schedules 
  • Referral bonuses 
  • Higher wages 
  • Better communicating company culture/values

For more information about this and the latest trends in the foodservice industry, click here.

Restaurants Canada Digital

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