We all love having a yummy meal at our favorite places, but lately it’s been hard to get a reservation. It’s because restaurants are having a hard time finding enough staff, which is causing a lot of stress for both owners and customers. But don’t worry, we’ve got tips on how to handle it with style.  So what’s the deal? Why is the restaurant business struggling? And what can be done to help? Let’s find out!

Why is there a staffing shortage in restaurants?

It’s a question that restaurant managers have been asking themselves for a while now, and the pandemic and other recent events have only made it worse. Since 2020, many restaurants have had to reduce the number of staff they keep. The pandemic has changed the way people work, and the restaurant industry has had to adjust to changing times while trying to find new ways to hire, train, and keep talented professionals.

We’ve also seen a rise in food and fuel prices around the world, which is affecting businesses and people alike. Supply chain issues have made things unpredictable for restaurant owners, and having a good team of experienced and skilled staff can help you weather the storm. One way to keep a good team is to focus on staff retention.

Understanding the Staffing Shortage

Before we dive into solutions, let’s chew on some food for thought with some compelling facts and figures:

  • The Great Resignation: As of mid-2021, the hospitality industry faced a shortage of over one million workers in the United States alone. This “Great Resignation” trend has affected the entire food and beverage industry.
  • Labor Costs Rising: The demand for restaurant staff has shot up due to factors like a rebounding economy and an increased appetite for dining out. This has pushed labor costs through the roof.
  • COVID Complications: The ongoing pandemic has made it even trickier, with some staff hesitant to return to work for safety reasons.

Tricks of the Trade to Solve the Staffing Puzzle

Now, let’s delve into some savvy solutions that can help your restaurant navigate this staffing crisis:

1. Rethink the Workforce:

  • Cross-Training: Cross-train your employees to handle various roles. That way, you can adapt to changing staffing levels more easily.
  • Gig Workers: Consider hiring temporary or gig workers during peak hours to handle the rush.

2. Tech To The Rescue:

  • Ordering Kiosks: Implement ordering kiosks at tables to reduce the need for waitstaff to take orders.
  • Reservation Apps: Leverage reservation apps and waitlist management systems to streamline operations and reduce the load on your host/hostess.

3. Menu Simplification:

  • Streamlined Menu: A smaller, more focused menu can reduce kitchen chaos and the number of chefs needed.

4. Employee Retention:

  • Offer Incentives: Provide bonuses or incentives to retain existing staff and attract new ones.
  • Work-Life Balance: Emphasize work-life balance, flexible schedules, and a positive work environment to retain and attract talent.

5. Embrace Technology:

  • POS Systems: Invest in advanced POS systems that can automate many restaurant functions, making it easier to operate with fewer staff.

6. Delivery and Takeout:

  • Expand Delivery Services: Extend your delivery and takeout options to cater to the demand for convenience. Third-party delivery services can be a lifeline

7. Community Outreach:

  • Local Partnerships: Forge partnerships with local culinary schools or programs to source talent and support your community.

In today’s highly competitive hospitality market, it is essential to take proactive steps to attract new talent. Utilizing technology can be a great way to streamline the hiring process. An Applicant Tracking System (ATS) can be implemented to facilitate the management of job applications, communication with candidates, and the organization of their information. This system can help to ensure that all potential hires are kept up to date and that communication is maintained throughout the recruitment process.

Hiring new staff during a restaurant staffing shortage can be challenging, but it’s not impossible. Here are some tips to help you attract and retain top talent:

  • Provide competitive salary and benefits: Ensure that your salaries are comparable with or above industry standards. To make your business more enticing to potential employees, consider providing additional advantages such as healthcare, paid time off, and employee discounts.
  • Create a pleasant work environment: Foster a welcoming and inclusive atmosphere in which workers feel appreciated and respected. Encourage cooperation, open communication, and professional growth opportunities. Employee retention may be dramatically improved by creating a favorable work environment.
  • Expand your recruitment channels: Don’t rely solely on traditional methods like job boards. Utilize social media platforms, community networks, and online recruitment tools to reach a wider pool of potential candidates. Consider attending job fairs and partnering with local schools or community organizations to find potential employees.
  • Emphasize flexibility: Many candidates desire flexible work arrangements. To accommodate varied lives and interests, consider offering flexible shifts, part-time jobs, or other schedule arrangements.
  • Highlight chances for professional development: Demonstrate to prospective workers that your restaurant provides prospects for growth and progress. Provide training programmes, mentorship opportunities, and clear job advancement paths.
  • Expand your recruitment channels: Don’t limit yourself to traditional approaches such as job boards. To access a larger pool of possible applicants, use social media platforms, community networks, and online recruiting tools. To identify potential employees, consider attending job fairs and collaborating with local schools or community organizations.
  • Use employee recommendations to your advantage: Encourage your present employees to suggest their colleagues and acquaintances for available openings. To encourage staff to propose qualified applicants, offer referral bonuses or incentives.
  • Showcase the culture of your restaurant: Highlight the distinctive features of your restaurant’s culture and principles. To attract applicants that fit your company’s culture, provide anecdotes about employee triumphs and good experiences.
  • Use technology to your advantage: Use online platforms and tools to expedite the recruiting process. Utilize applicant tracking technologies to quickly handle applications and plan interviews. Use video interviewing technologies to broaden your reach and save time.
  • Collaboration with staffing agencies: Think about collaborating with renowned staffing agencies that specialize in the hospitality business. They can assist you in locating appropriate applicants and managing the initial screening process.


It’s no secret that the restaurant industry is experiencing a staffing shortage, but this is also a chance to change things up and improve the dining experience. You can overcome the staffing obstacle and emerge stronger by coming up with innovative solutions and putting your employees’ needs first. The staffing shortage is ultimately a complicated problem that requires many different approaches to be taken.

You can ensure that your restaurant continues to offer fantastic dining experiences by addressing the root causes, developing practical strategies, and being creative. It’s crucial to keep in mind that your restaurant’s employees are what sustain it during these uncertain times.  It can be tough to navigate the staffing shortage, but if you have the right ingredients and the right attitude, you can keep bringing the magic to food lovers everywhere. Bon appetit!