What is the “Great Resignation” and how do you deal with it in your restaurant?
The Great Resignation is a surge in the number of people leaving a company at a time. Some businesses are seeing a larger than normal number of resignations and this global phenomenon is backed up by statistical evidence from many other countries.
At our company, we tend to have really long retention of our team if they last 12 months. We’re fairly tough on new employees, but once they get past the first 12 months, we see them as keepers. Interestingly enough, we have had a couple of people leave within the last 12 months, giving us numbers that are quite high, since it’s been about 4 years since we last had people leave.
When we looked into that to see if it was something we should be worried about, it turns out that most of those who left did so because of issues with their partners. It wasn’t the Great Resignation for us, but it goes to highlight the issues that the pandemic has created for many businesses.
So, why are people resigning from their jobs?
If you want to manage the Great Resignation well in your business, you have to understand the reasons why people are leaving before anything else. You can’t create a solution for a problem you don’t understand!
● The Psychological Impact
Many people are questioning what it is that they do in their day-to-day job. They’re looking for something new to do or they’re looking for a higher meaning of life kind of job.
● The struggle to retain jobs
In face-to-face jobs such as hospitality, many of them have struggled to retain their jobs. That means just in order to survive, they need to go out into other industries and find other jobs.
● Burnout from heavy workload
Healthcare is a great example for this. A lot of our healthcare professionals leave their jobs because of the incredible amount of work and pressure they have on a daily basis. They get exhausted and burnt out from the job, leaving them no choice but to quit.
● Cessation of immigration
Many jobs all over the world are traditionally run with labor from immigrants who are new to the country, especially in the hospitality industry. Restaurant owners would employ immigrants from countries where they base their cuisine on.
Now, because there haven’t been a lot of immigration happening, business owners couldn’t find the workforce they need to fill the jobs and the workload in these businesses have gone up for the current employees, leading them to burnout and exhaustion.
● Postponed retirements
Onset and throughout the many lockdowns we’ve experienced, those who were able to retain their jobs and are of retiring age decided to postpone their retirements because of the uncertainty. They continued working through the past few years and now that we’re easing into a normal with COVID-19 around, they are gaining a bit more certainty in life, and are deciding to retire.
● The return to work
We have seen huge progress through COVID and now, people are able to come back to work in their usual offices, but that also became a top reason for the Great Resignation.
The amount of flexibility for those who were able to work from home has dried up the number of those who are willing to come back to work in offices. They want to retain the flexibility they had while working at home and since they are being asked to come back to the office, they are quitting.
● Getting vaccinated
Another reason tied up to returning to work is getting vaccinated – a lot of people are not comfortable with getting vaccinated and in many places around the world, vaccines are required for you to fulfill your job.
● The fear of getting COVID-19
Particularly in countries where vaccination rates are quite low, we’re seeing a lot of resignation because of the fear of getting COVID-19. With most offices going back to regular operations, cities, states, and countries with low vaccination rates have more people resisting to come back to the office.
They fear that they might get the virus when they do and since there isn’t much flexibility in many businesses, especially smaller, traditionally face-to-face operations, they end up quitting their jobs.
How many more people are going to resign?
The theory is that there is going to be an ongoing continuation of people resigning, but I don’t think that’s going to be the case.
COVID is easier to recover from today than it was two years ago and many countries have received significant government support for businesses. Some of those businesses are going to go belly up and lay off their staff, and there’s a lot of certainty we’re facing within the next 18 months to years.
Inflation and how it affects businesses
We’re also starting to see inflation around the world – and it’s going to be a big thing. We’re already seeing it in the US and we’re expecting to see it in the UK as well as in Australia.
Everything is becoming more expensive to buy and in the hospitality industry where staffing is becoming a problem, we’re already seeing significant sign-on bonuses, higher wages for all the roles in the restaurant, and many more.
Challenges in hiring people
Aside from the significant increase in resignations within businesses, we’re also seeing a lot of challenges when it comes to hiring people, and this is putting a huge amount of pressure on businesses too.
It’s a lot harder to get people who are willing to do the jobs that businesses need in order to operate because of similar reasons why people are leaving. If it’s a job that’s traditionally done by immigrants, immigration has dried up. If it’s a job that requires a lot from the staff, maybe people don’t want the heavy workload anymore.
Increases in wages
Another thing that’s feeding the Great Resignation is the significant increases in wages here and there. We are seeing this very much in a lot of restaurants, where they’re having to pay significantly above the award rate just to be able to get people to come into work.
This is driven by the scarcity of people to do that job and it creates an insidious cycle. When you’ve got a scarcity of work and people are starting to put their prices up, you start getting people who want to leave so they can get higher wages at another location.
For many restaurants, that’s not something that they will not be able to do.
What can you do to manage the Great Resignation in your restaurant?
The Great Resignation which you may or may not be seeing in your business today and you may or may not be seeing in the future has a range of reasons. What can you do to manage it?
Here are some of the best ways you can manage the Great Resignation when it hits your business so you won’t have to suffer like many other businesses have:
1. Communicate openly with your team
This is the most important thing to do when you’re managing your people. You wanna be getting their feedback to know what it is you can do to make them happier in their jobs.
Find out what their pain points are and if they like what they’re doing. It’s a lot harder to retain people if they are actively looking for work, when they’ve made that decision that working in your business isn’t right for them.
Knowing what they want, what their issues are, and finding out how you can help them can greatly increase your retention. Your goal as the business owner is to be their employer of choice and you need to communicate if you want to make that happen.
2. Have a vision
Even if you’re just the local hamburger store, what you wanna be doing is you don’t wanna have people come in just to flip burgers. You want to have it as someone as being a little bit more.
What does the hamburger mean to people? What is it you’re trying to translate? Look for that higher meaning in life that will create a culture and an environment that people will want to be around.
3. Take a look at the pay
Putting the pay up is not supposed to be the first thing you’re going to do. Some people who say they leave because of compensation turn out to be leaving because of something completely different. They say, “oh, I’m leaving because the pay is not that good and it isn’t a great work environment.” – you can work on improving the work environment to make their pay worth their time.
If you feel like there is a need to put the pay up for your team, you gotta look at your prices too. Do not panic about where you’re going to get the increase from, because you can raise your prices if necessary too.
Regularly assess your finances in the restaurant so you can make the adjustments necessary to accommodate every area of your business.
4. Efficiency in your business
Remaining profitable through a pandemic and with a shortage in staff can be difficult and that’s why you need to check the efficiency in your business to keep the ball rolling and keep your team happy.
Start by looking at your menu and assessing the items you offer your customers. Some restaurants cut off items that are difficult to prepare off their menu because they either don’t have the skills to get them done or they just don’t have the time and capacity to serve them.
Think about automating some of your services that will help reduce the kind of skills, the time it takes, and anything else that may help you take the load off your team so they don’t get burnt out by their jobs.
5. Perks and benefits
The obvious one that has been fueling the Great Resignation is the fact that people are being asked to come back to work from two years of working from home. If that has been a problem in your business, you may need to take a look at the situation from a different angle.
If your staff has been productive even while working from home, you can propose a hybrid work arrangement where they only need to come to work in the office a few days of the week and they get to work from home for most of it.
There’s no reason for you to force your team into coming to the office if they can sustain productivity while working from home. They will value the flexibility you’re giving and they will value their jobs even more!
For your restaurant, you can provide a perk that gives employees the chance to have their families come into the restaurant for a great meal, on the house. It’s an incredibly low cost compared to losing your employees and having to find new ones!
The Great Resignation may or may not affect your business and your team, but it’s still better to be prepared than to be taken down by it. Reassess your current situation, speak to your team members, and find a way to give them something that will make them stay without breaking the bank!
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