How Technology Can Help the Restaurant Industry

Employers & Recruiters October 9, 2015

Funny Wifi tech
With the improving economy, restaurant industry sales are expected to hit a record high of $709.2 billion in 2015. Not bad.

Other stats, however, paint a different picture about the state of the restaurant industry.

The average hourly worker in the food service industry stays in one position for only about six months. Let me highlight this: six months. More than a third of restaurants report a quarterly turnover rate of at least 26% for their hourly employees, and 33% say that this rate has increased over the past two years. About 46% of restaurants reported frequently or sometimes being understaffed.

So what’s going on here? How can this be, when the restaurant industry remains the nation’s second-largest private sector employer, with a workforce of 14 million? Why so much turnover?

Hiring, scheduling, and managing employees are constant struggles for the restaurant industry. Unpredictable scheduling practices affect both retention and the ability to recruit new workers.

The solution? Let’s take a look at a real-life example.

One company that is known for going against the norm and developing innovative employee practices is Starbucks. Last year, Starbucks made huge changes in its automated scheduling, getting rid of widely split shifts, known as “clopening” – when an employee is scheduled to close a unit at night and open it the next morning. Clopenings are pretty common in the restaurant industry; with 48% of managers scheduling employees for back-to back closing and opening shifts. Not only this, but Starbucks has made immense improvements in posting schedules in advance, and relocating workers who live more than an hour commute from their current location to closer units.

Technology WIN.

But even Starbucks knows that they need to do more for employee satisfaction. The thing is, the restaurant industry should look to retain more workers, not push them away. Employee satisfaction and the retention of workers could, in fact, save your company money. The average replacement costs for an individual worker averaged about $4,000 overall, with costs as high as $7,000, for professional and managerial employees. With these stats, restaurant chains are honing in on recruitment.

As is typical in today’s era, the solution to all these problems exists within technology. Starbucks used it to improve their scheduling method, but some restaurant chains are incorporating more into their recruitment efforts as well. A total of 44% of workers in general subscribe to websites that send job alerts on openings. Some restaurants are incorporating recruitment into their scheduling applications, which is accessible by the workers’ smartphones or computer devices. But until recently, technology hasn’t played a huge role in the restaurant hiring and retention practices.

We need to take advantage of the technological tools we already have in place, and come up with new ones. Let’s automate scheduling and use technology to increase recruiting. Let’s make it about employee satisfaction, flexibility, and retaining more workers. Let’s change the fact that the majority of restaurants still use manual processes, and instead support a restaurant industry that is more productive, efficient, and innovative.

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