Walk around any restaurant district or fast-food court, and you're likely to see a "Help Wanted" sign on the window. Restaurants all over America are struggling not only to hire employees but also to retain them – even with higher wages.
A study by Black Box Intelligence and Snagajob dives into the issues plaguing the restaurant world in 2021 and explains where potential workers are going. Black Box Intelligence is a data and insights provider for the restaurant industry, and Snagajob is a marketplace to connect workers with hourly jobs.
The study found:
Restaurants face labor shortages despite a 10% increase in hourly wages for limited-service workers year over year.
In the broader labor force, there is a 70% increase in job vacancies and a 10% decrease in people looking for work.
Turnover rates are at an all-time high at 144% for limited-service jobs.
About 87% of respondents would rather have a set livable wage than tips.
What are the reasons behind staffing issues?
The study cited a few reasons for the staffing issues:
Restaurant workers often work long hours and have limited child care options, especially when schools pursue a hybrid or remote approach.
Restaurant work is often emotionally taxing, and 78% of workers said their mental health had been negatively affected in the past year. Many workers say restaurant jobs aren't worth the mental stress coupled with the higher chance of disease transmission.
Opportunities in other industries
In a job market this hot, workers have a bunch of options. Fifty-one percent of workers say restaurant work lacks the consistent schedule and pay they want.
Where are potential employees going?
According to economic development researcher Chuck McShane, based in Charlotte, North Carolina, "restaurant workers ‘pivoted’ during the pandemic" and moved toward jobs in building material and garden supply stores, which experienced a boom amid the housing and home gardening frenzy in the past year.
The average hourly rate for a job in the construction supplies and wholesale industry is $17.48, as opposed to an average of $12.29 for the restaurant industry, according to payscale.com. The more stable work hours in these retail locations and higher pay have led many to flock from restaurant work.
Warehouse and storage jobs rose by 6% from February 2020 to April 2021, according to statistics revealed by the U.S. Department of Labor Statistics. Snagajob data reflects that warehouse and logistics job listings are up 278% compared with before the pandemic.
What can employers do?
Black Box Intelligence and Snagajob released a series of recommendations for restaurants to tackle the concerns of restaurant workers based on the priorities of the 4,700 workers they surveyed:
Offer flexibility in hours to accommodate child care schedules.
Heavily advertise benefits and perks of the job, such as sign-on bonuses, promotion opportunities and retention bonuses.
Create a culture of open dialogue about mental health, mask mandates and harassment from customers. Talk to your staff and understand their pain points before it's too late.
Michelle Shen is a Money & Tech Digital Reporter for USATODAY. You can reach her @michelle_shen10 on Twitter.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Wages rose 10% for fast-food workers as restaurants face hiring issues