Chef, waiter, hotel or restaurant manager: the constant struggle to find and keep staff


It’s harder than ever for small business owners to find the right workers. The Battle for Talent series looks at hiring challenges across multiple industries and offers solutions.

Yannick Bigourdan owns a restaurant called The Carbon Bar in Toronto and a series of other small food and retail businesses. He says hiring in the Greater Toronto Area is difficult, in part because of the region’s growth. “If you look at the number of restaurants that have opened in the GTA over the past 10 years, the number of new positions opening in our industry is staggering.”

The Globe and Mail

People in service businesses such as restaurants say it’s hard to get good help since, well, forever. But Yannick Bigourdan says it is now more difficult than ever.

“I think it’s getting worse,” says Bigourdan, owner of a restaurant called The Carbon Bar in Toronto and a series of other small food and retail businesses.

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“Finding people is the biggest challenge in the restaurant industry today. It’s scary what’s going on in the hospitality industry in general. We need more chefs, servers, managers – people in all aspects of our industry, ”he says.

In the grip of a tight job market, an explosion of new restaurants all in need of staff, and competitive and legal pressure to pay better wages, the Canadian hospitality and tourism industry is looking for ways to find more. people to say, “Hello, I’ll be your server tonight.

“If you think the fight for talent is tough now, it’s going to get worse,” says Rob Gifford, executive vice president of the National Restaurant Association Education Foundation (NRAEF).

In Canada, in the related hotel industry, “the demand for labor far exceeds what is available,” said Philip Mondor, labor market specialist and president of Tourism HR Canada, an industry group.

On the hotel side alone, more than 10,000 workers are needed to fill the jobs. Mr Mondor produces graphs to show that by 2035, hospitality demand for labor will have increased by 41 percent since 2010, while the workforce will increase by 25 percent.

This means that 240,000 jobs will beg in restaurants and hotels in Canada in 17 years.

There is already a general shortage of people to fill key positions in the food and beverage industry, Mondor adds. The list goes on: cooks, executive chefs, chefs, waiters, hosts, bakers, bartenders and delivery drivers.

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It is possible, of course, that in the future some of this work will be taken over by drones that will deliver your pizza or robots that can inflate your napkin or whip up a nasty creme brulee. But it’s a cold comfort right now for restaurateurs like Mr. Bigourdan, who have to make adjustments almost every day for a lack of staff.

He needs around 400 people working in his different companies at any given time. While not all positions are full-time, it helps to have regulars or even people you can rely on to show up for shifts they have booked.

Yet it is often difficult to find people who will commit.

These days, it’s difficult for restaurants and hotels to get people to show up for a single shift or a job interview, says Erika Mozes, co-founder and COO of Hyr, an app which allows restaurants to hire temporary and shift workers. Launched in February 2017, Hyr operates in Toronto and New York; it is one of many online platforms designed to make it easier to match potential service businesses like restaurants and hotels with freelancers and freelancers.

Usually, no-shows got a better deal, says Mozes.

Mr. Bigourdan adds: “People want to work as waiters and earn enough for a school semester or a car. Even chefs want to work in one place for about a year or a year and a half, learn all they can, and move on.

The reasons are demographic and economic, says Mozes. “There are lower birth rates and fewer people in the workforce and more restaurants and hotel businesses are opening. It affects all sizes of these types of businesses, from small to large businesses.

Mr. Bigourdan agrees that his businesses today compete as much for people as they do for customers. In the GTA, part of that is because of the growth in the region.

“If you look at the number of restaurants that have opened in the GTA over the past 10 years, the number of new positions opened in our industry is staggering,” he says.

The expectations of workers are also increasing, making people in a tight labor market even more demanding.

A study reported in the NRAEF’s US industry publication, Nation’s Restaurant News, found that Generation Z workers (born after 1997) surveyed primarily looked for a good corporate culture, even more than a check for pay.

The NRAEF survey, slated for release this month, found that 82 percent of Gen Z respondents got their first job in restaurants, but 75 percent didn’t stay in the workplace. industry.

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Another problem pointed out by Mr. Bigourdan is the increase in the costs of hiring restaurant workers. In Ontario, the previous Liberal government passed minimum wage and worker protection legislation that new Progressive Conservative Premier Doug Ford pledged to end.

Mr. Bigourdan says he does not want to get involved in the policy in question, but he notes that after the entry into force of the labor law, “in our company, we immediately saw that we had tightened our schedules. [hiring fewer people for shifts]. So I don’t think the job market has really won.

In a tight labor market to find good staff, Bigourdan says he’s just trying to build good relationships with promising prospects he hires.

“People do a few shifts, we talk, we get to know each other and if we like each other we can maybe offer a more permanent position,” he says.

Beyond that, he says he’s looking to community colleges for graduates of programs that develop high-level skills.

“Learning to be a chef, hotelier or restaurant manager, all of these skills are crucial for the development of the tourism industry,” he says.


About Vivian J. Smith

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