The hospitality industry lost 2.5 million jobs in 2020, the National Restaurant Association reported. Although restaurants have added jobs in 2021, the unemployment rate for restaurant workers is still well above the national average. But despite the jobless rates in hospitality, many restaurants are struggling to find workers.
Almost half of establishments are operating with 20% less staff than usual, the National Restaurant Association found. Moreover, accommodations and food service job openings spiked to nearly 1 million in March of 2021, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
With job openings still sky high and employers struggling to fill essential worker roles across industries, recruiters will need to get creative and stay modern with their hiring tactics, considering options like on-demand talent platforms to fill staffing gaps.
Where Are the Restaurant Job Seekers?
A 2020 Glassdoor analysis looked at a group of over 120,000 job seekers who were actively searching for “restaurant server” positions on its site in January and February. It then tracked those users’ job searches in April and the first half of May.
Glassdoor found that within that cohort, searches for “data entry” jobs jumped about 400% during that period compared to the year before. Searches for “remote” positions jumped roughly 300%, and searches for Amazon — which Glassdoor sees as a catch-all for warehouse, delivery and other jobs — rose about 600%.
In 2020, millions of restaurant workers, who typically live paycheck to paycheck, or shift to shift, were suddenly without a job. Since then, many hospitality employees have left the industry, choosing to move toward stable employment offering full-time hours and benefits.
These jobs were plentiful as other industries returned to business quicker than those in the food and beverage sector. Others, who worked at a restaurant as a second or third job, decided to take up gig work, such as Uber driving.
While there are still restaurant workers to be found, it may be time for recruiters to turn to other methodologies to fill their staffing gaps.
How On-Demand Labor Supports Restaurant Staffing
On-demand labor has been common in industries like manufacturing and logistics, but now the hospitality and restaurant industries are getting creative in their recruitment approach, tapping different ways to fill positions and shifts driving profitability. On-demand talent apps for hospitality and food service jobs are popping up all over the United States, and they’re expanding rapidly.
As technology supported the demand for delivery options during the early days of the pandemic, restaurant and food service industry managers and HR teams are now turning to on-demand apps to fill high-volume roles quickly as demand for dining out begins to climb since the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines and lifting of lockdown restrictions in many geographic areas.
Related: Creative Strategies for Hiring in Restaurant & Retail
On-Demand Labor Platforms Taking Off in the Space
Indianapolis-based SnapShyft is serving more than 15 regional locations, and adding more and larger cities like Austin and Philadelphia to its service area. SnagWork grew out of Snagajob (now called Snag), an online jobs marketplace founded primarily for restaurant and retail workers.
Snapchef — a Boston-based company that connects restaurants and hiring managers with temporary workers — makes money by billing clients based on how many hours an employee works. Snapchef recently launched a training program with an online culinary school called Rouxbe geared toward workers entering the industry. The program covers food safety, knife skills, and basic ingredient identification to offer new workers a leg up in the job process.
Gigpro, a staffing app started in South Carolina, currently works with about 6,000 people and 300 businesses. It fills about 300 gigs a week and is free to use, though there’s a fee after each gig is completed. At Gigpro, workers are rated after each gig, which can help restaurants track their performance and reliability.
Staffing apps can match candidates to roles through software and virtual training. Fliptable, which is based in Vermont and launched in 2020, uses artificial intelligence to connect managers with workers through a profile and Tinder-like swipe interface.
How to Choose the ODL/ODT Platform That’s Right For You
There are already dozens of on-demand talent apps specific to the restaurant and food service industry, many of which expanded during the pandemic from all on-demand labor to focus on restaurant staffing.
When evaluating which app to use, HR and managers should be familiar with how the technology works, whether or not quality standards and screening are in place, and implement training for managers who are overseeing both full-time and gig workers.
Additionally, some of the apps are supplying contractors on a temporary basis, others are positioning their talent pool as contract-to-hire. The terms of each should be clearly defined by the vendor you choose.