How Restaurants Are Trying To Attract Employees During The Pandemic

Combining an industry known for its outrageously high employee turnover rate with a global pandemic created a perfect storm that has had restaurant owners scrambling for new hires. The coronavirus not only upended life as we knew it, but it also highlighted many aspects of our jobs that never worked for people in the first place.

According to Eater, the reasons behind the labor shortages across the food service industry are more complicated than people assume. In the early days of the pandemic, restaurants were one of the few businesses that stayed open while most people were in lockdown. This posed a health risk to employees in an industry that is not known for providing benefits like health and life insurance to its workers.

Enduring waves of COVID infections without paid leave have caused many food workers to become disenchanted with an industry that asks a lot of its employees without providing the coverage they need to feel safe. Hourly employees who can still work have seen their schedules cut at a moment's notice with no way to make up for those lost wages and have opted for more reliable jobs that offer higher pay and benefits packages (per The Washington Post).

Despite many restaurants raising wages and even offering much-needed insurance, food service workers are still hesitant to return to their restaurant jobs today. This has created a competitive environment where there are more jobs than applicants, forcing restaurant owners to rethink what they offer to their employees.

What restaurants are offering to incentivize workers

Amidst a never-before-seen exodus from food service industry jobs, both small indie restaurants and big chain eateries are hiring. The problem is that after two years of a global pandemic, restaurant workers are looking for better jobs elsewhere. In response, the service industry is making some big changes and offering incentives to entice workers to return to the table.

The Washington Post says that owners and managers across the country are having to go above and beyond increasing wages to get employees to work in the food service industry. Many have started offering sign-on bonuses, shorter workweeks, and college tuition programs to bring in new hires. According to Restaurant Business Magazine, employers are trying to retain workers by providing paid sick leave, same-day paycheck options, flexible schedules, and mental health services in addition to health insurance and 401K inclusion. These are all incentives that would've gotten a line cook laughed out of the office if they had been requested two years ago.

Despite these incentives, the latest omicron wave still has the restaurant economy on the fritz, with many food service workers still looking for greener pastures in other industries. This leaves restaurant owners to consider what employees need and analyze their reactions to incentives that are already in place in order to get back to business.