A Business Case for the Current Labor Environment

As the tight labor market collides with generational shifts in the workforce, operators should reexamine their approach to staffing.
Restaurant showing kitchen and dining area

Let’s level-set the current labor conditions and its implications for your commercial foodservice operation.

The national unemployment rate averaged 4.85% for 2016 according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the lowest since 2007 and one of the lowest we’ve seen in the last 30 years. Courtesy of this minor unemployment figure, labor conditions are tightening. There are fewer employees to go around, slimmer candidate pools, increased competition and higher costs associated with retention.

The big workforce shake-up

As if that wasn’t enough, generational factors are also impacting workforce management. As baby boomers age out of the workforce—they are reaching retirement age at a rate of 10,000 per day and will be for the next 12 years, according to the Pew Research Center—staff makeup is going to shift dramatically, with Gen X and Millennials stepping in to fill their vacant positions.

The need for a new staffing plan

As the current job market mixes with this generational shift, employers are finding themselves on complex terrain. To navigate this changing landscape, operators will need to update their staffing processes and solutions. That is where a long-term staffing approach comes in, which should cover off on:

  • Ownership: Decide which labor decisions should be taken on at the executive leadership-level and which ones can be handled by manager(s).

  • An annual plan: Create a yearly plan for reviewing and managing your labor, being sure to break down what needs to happen when, and how often.

  • Required support: Determine what new resources or tools you may need to support your expanded staffing efforts.

  • What success looks like: Establish goals and metrics to track the progress of your workforce management objectives, with clear definitions for success and how you’re going to monitor it so you can course correct if things go off track.

While the new employee landscape will be equally foreign to veteran operators and newly minted restaurateurs, one thing is certain: creating a strategic approach to staffing will be necessary for navigating it.

The content of this article is for informational purposes only. The information in this article cannot and should not stand in for guidance from your human resource experts.

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