5 ways operators can fight the hospitality labour shortage

Industry trends, Latest from Vita Mojo

October 26, 2022

Spread the word:

Mariah Carey said it best: “All I want for Christmas is you – and a fully staffed operation.” 

The Financial Times recently reported on the hospitality labour shortage, revealing that over a quarter of a million seasonal workers are needed for the hospitality industry to operate through the busy Christmas period of 2022. Domino’s are planning to hire a staggering 10,000 new staff just for the period – that’s a lot of dough. 

It’s at a time when – according to UKHospitality – recruitment challenges are still stifling restaurants’ ability to drive growth. Hiring the number of staff needed for a successful festive period can seem an impossible prospect for operators. And it’s not only a numbers game; there’s also a question of skill in the candidates coming into your operation. 

Mariah Carey said it best: “All I want for Christmas is you – and a fully staffed operation.” 

The Financial Times recently reported that over a quarter of a million seasonal workers are needed for the hospitality industry to operate through the busy Christmas period of 2022. Domino’s are planning to hire a staggering 10,000 new staff just for the period – that’s a lot of dough. 

At a time when – according to UKHospitality – recruitment challenges are still stifling restaurants’ ability to drive growth, hiring the number of staff needed for a successful festive period can seem an impossible prospect for operators. And it’s not only a numbers game; there’s also a question of skill in the candidates coming into your operation. 

 

There’s no magical present under the tree that will solve the labour crisis for the industry before December. But there are certainly alternatives to dedicating time and energy to a relentless recruitment drive.

Our advice? Replace the gaps in your rota with tech. 

How to fight the labour shortage with restaurant tech

1. Recruit digital order channels instead

It’s the first thing anyone thinks of when considering restaurant tech, and for good reason. Digital ordering channels can take a huge amount of pressure off of a short-handed team, even more so when employed as part of a wider operating system. 

Channels like self-service kiosks, Click & Collect, and Mobile Order and Pay work overtime in filling the gaps in the rota. Not only can they take more orders, they have the added benefit of upselling better than a human ever could. We’ve seen brands raise ATV by as much as 35% thanks to digital ordering, and customers love the digital experience

“Self-order kiosks are the future of fast-food restaurants. By making them our main in-store ordering method, it’s freed up labour to the extent that it’s like having one additional employee.”

Embedding digital ordering into your operation doesn’t just empower you to run with a smaller workforce. You also release your existing team from the POS or card reader, allowing them to deliver more human-driven tasks. This could mean focusing on that all-important hospitality experience as a host, or redeploying team members to back of house to help with prep at peak time.

Don’t panic about not being able to find the right people to take orders – let a kiosk do it, instead…

2. Integrate third party delivery orders

Managing multiple delivery partners can be such a monumental task of admin than it easily makes up a full time job in the rota. Inputting manual orders that come in from Deliveroo, Just Eat and other third parties into a POS takes precious time, and is a hotbed for human error. 

This presents a significant challenge for operators lacking the capacity to dedicate staff to this time sink. 

The answer is an operating system that integrates with these third party delivery providers. One that embeds the orders from each one into a single ecosystem and through to the Kitchen Management System. It should then combine them with orders from your own delivery service if you have one, as well as all orders from other channels, whether they are digital or from the POS. 

What you’ll have then is an order and delivery ecosystem that effectively runs itself. Forget sleepless nights trying to come up with a people-fueled solution to tablet hell, just automate it! 

3. Update menus once and once only

Yet another time sink for an already time-strapped workforce is backend admin. 

Making updates to menus and store opening hours should be a quick, one-time job, but this is a pipe dream when operations are spread across multiple platforms.

We often hear operators lamenting the frustrating process of logging into one platform, updating a menu, logging out, only to repeat the process for another channel. Some have even complained of working into the night to get everything done. 

Don’t underestimate the amount of time that can be saved by moving to one, central operating system. By having all menus, restaurant sites and ordering channels – including third party delivery – in one place, you can make changes that apply across the board with just one touch. The time and labour this saves can be invaluable.  

“Having everything digitised and in one place streamlines everything. It’s convenient, makes operations and reporting much easier. We have never looked back!”

4. Simplify training

Finding staff to run your operation is problem number one, problem number two is finding the time to train them up to the point they are contributing successfully.

Getting to grips with multiple, complicated platforms is a time consuming process, and can be a significant obstacle when you need to get staff trained up ASAP. 

Simplifying your operations as much as possible by moving to just one platform makes training a lot quicker for your existing staff. It also makes the process a lot easier for newbies coming on board. Systems only need to be taught and learned once, rather than chipping away at an overcomplicated tech stack.  

And if training is slowing things down in the kitchen, having easy access to quickly change menu item availability can streamline the process. This reduces kitchen chaos and gives new starters breathing room to learn. 

"We typically had four to six people working on the tills but with kiosks this has been reduced to two, which has had a dramatic impact on the running costs of each unit.”

5. Automate the mundane to keep the staff you’ve got

Once you’ve found and trained staff you want, keeping them is the next challenge. 

According to Kate Nicholls – OBE and CEO of UKHospitality – only one in five restaurant workers would recommend a job in the industry right now. This statistic speaks volumes about the challenges of retention facing operators – it’s easy to feel hopeless when you’re struggling to attract staff whilst seeing the good ones get away.

But it’s not a hopeless situation. A shift in focus to company culture will go a long way in helping staff see the benefits of a career in hospitality, and making working life easier plays a significant role in this.

Use an operating system to automate the mundane, and allow your staff to focus on more rewarding tasks with higher value. No one wants to spend their shift manually inputting Deliveroo orders or taking payment chained to the POS. Digitise these processes, and the staff can refocus their time away from admin and onto hospitality. 

What a complete operating system means

The labour shortage isn’t going to be solved overnight, so it’s a mistake to just wait and struggle through. Growth and success are still attainable with a leaner workforce, especially when empowered by the right tech solution. 

We’ve dug into how employing a single operating system significantly decreases the pressure that the labour shortage is putting on operations, setting hospitality businesses up for a successful festive period and beyond, into a new year of growth. 

Want to hear more about how the complete Vita Mojo Operating System can make running a restaurant easier in a labour shortage? Book a demo with us now!

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