Weathering the Staff Shortage Storm: How you and your Restaurant can stay Afloat

Restaurant owners know all too well the challenge of staffing their business. It can be difficult to find enough qualified individuals to fill all the roles necessary to keep a restaurant running. Unfortunately, this challenge can be exacerbated by staff shortages and other external factors that can make it difficult to remain afloat. 

Strategies for Weathering the Staff Shortage Storm

1. Automation

By utilising automation, restaurants can reduce their reliance on human resources and ensure that their operations continue running smoothly. Automation can range from basic tasks such as automated order entry systems to more specialised tasks such as robotic chefs. Automation can also be used to reduce labour costs, since machines don't require wages, and they can also increase efficiency and accuracy. In addition, automation can free up more time for staff members to focus on more complex tasks. This can help to improve customer service levels and ensure that the restaurant is able to meet customer demands. Automation can also help to streamline processes, allowing for more efficient operations and less time wasted on mundane tasks. Additionally, automating certain tasks can help to reduce the risk of human error, ensuring that orders are always accurate and that customers are always satisfied with the food they receive.

2. Cross-Training

Cross-training is an effective way to bridge the gap of a staff shortage. By having employees learn the skills of different positions, you can create a flexible staff that is prepared to take on the responsibilities of multiple roles. Not only does cross-training help reduce the challenge of a staff shortage, but it can also benefit your employees. Employees who learn multiple skills can become more valuable in the workplace, making them more attractive to future employers, as well as boosting their self-esteem. In order to begin cross-training your staff, you’ll need to start by assessing your team’s current skill set. Are there certain positions that have a higher need for cross-training? Once you’ve identified the areas to cross-train in, create a plan that outlines the specific skills each employee should learn. Don’t forget to provide support, resources, and feedback to ensure that your employees are learning the skills they need to be successful in their new roles.

3. Outsourcing

Outsourcing can allow restaurants to access labour resources that may not be locally available, such as chefs with specialised training or experience in a certain cuisine. Restaurants can also outsource services such as dishwashing, catering, and delivery. This can help the restaurant focus on its main operations while allowing outside vendors to take care of the other tasks. Another way restaurants can outsource is by hiring virtual staff. This means that the restaurant can hire staff to work remotely, often on a contract basis. This can be a great way to access more talent and skills that may not be available locally. It can also help to reduce the workload of the restaurant staff and free up more time to focus on other areas.

In short, while a staff shortage storm is an issue that can be difficult to weather, with the right strategies in place, restaurant owners can come out on the other side unscathed. The key is to be proactive, plan ahead, and be open to new solutions. Communication is the key to navigating any issue, but especially the staff shortage crisis. Utilising technology and digital solutions can help streamline processes, while providing thorough training and creating a positive work environment can help retain valued employees. With the right strategies, restaurant owners can maintain a successful business despite the staff shortage.

At the same time it’s also important to remember that you don't have to go through the storm alone. Reaching out to industry networks, fellow restaurant owners, and local organisations can provide invaluable support and advice. Furthermore, digital platforms can help connect employers with job seekers so that the process of filling open positions is easier. Ultimately, the staff shortage storm can be weathered with the right strategies and support.