How to Support Your QSR Employees During a Labor Shortage

78% of restaurants do not have the bandwidth to fulfill customer demands, and three out of four restaurant employees plan to leave their job within the next year, according to the State of the Restaurant Industry 2022 report. Employers are struggling to hire workers fast enough to keep up with high turnover rates, and employees are experiencing burnout as they try to pick up the slack at understaffed quick service restaurants (QSRs). While the labor shortage might make it seem like restaurant owners and managers need to focus most of their attention on the hiring process, it’s essential to support your current employees during stressful times. Otherwise, they may join their colleagues who have sought out other opportunities. 

In this blog, we’ll discuss a few ways QSR owners and operators can improve morale and maintain a positive workplace culture despite today’s challenges.

4 Ways to Support Your QSR Employees

1. Invest in Time-Saving Technology

Time is money, especially in the fast-paced QSR industry. However, time-pressed frontline foodservice workers and managers face pressure to comply with complex food safety guidelines while still providing customers an optimal experience. Guidelines include logging proper temperatures for food items or ensuring surfaces are clean. Your employees could benefit from the right food safety tools to ensure they can do their jobs efficiently and serve customers to the best of their abilities. 

Managers can lighten employee workload by equipping QSR employees with time-saving and cutting edge digital technologies to streamline operations. For example, a digital food safety solution can save employees 45 to 60 minutes per day, allowing them to transition away from logging food safety reports on paper, and more time serving customers. With options such as Squadle’s ZeroTouch technology, there is no need for physical checklists, as the product generates instant food temperature data and alerts in real-time. 

Similarly, QSR employees are tasked with monitoring kitchen equipment and walk-in inventory. Digital tools, such as remote temperature monitoring (RTM), does the heavy lifting for employees. RTM automatically logs and stores refrigerator and freezer temperature data 24/7. Employees can breathe a sigh of relief since the technology instantly catches equipment failure through wireless sensors, preventing inventory loss and human error. 

2. Hire the Right People From the Start

In a sea of job seekers, identifying top QSR applicants can be difficult and time-consuming. However, even if you have a shallow applicant pool, it’s crucial to be selective during the hiring process. One suboptimal hire can cost your business $5,864, according to Cornell’s Center for Hospitality Research. Here is a quick breakdown:

  • Pre-Departure Cost: $176
  • Recruitment Cost: $1,173
  • Selection (Process) Cost: $645
  • Onboarding, Orientation, and Training Costs: $821
  • Productivity Loss Cost: $3,049

Restaurant owners ought to prioritize recruiting reliable, driven employees who will work hard to achieve business goals. Many QSRs have turned to hiring solutions like Sprockets, to help them boost employee retention. Platforms such as this use artificial intelligence to predict which applicants will succeed and stay long-term like your current top performers. Preventing high churn rates can lead to higher employee morale for existing employees and stronger training experiences for newcomers. Additionally, owners will regain hours back in their days to shift focus away from the hiring process and instead prioritize customer experience and developing current talent. 

3. Recognize High-Performing QSR Employees

Your quick service restaurant team likely shares your frustrations around industry challenges sparked by the labor shortage. After all, foodservice employees are the ones directly impacted by staffing issues, picking up extra shifts and dealing with disgruntled customers. Employees may be filling in for people who don’t show up or they are training new hires who may not stay long-term. Some QSR employees are even juggling two jobs. 

Take the time to recognize staff for their accomplishments and positive attitudes. Be specific — they might not even know what they are doing well. Your words of praise could turn an employee’s entire day around!

According to Harvard Business Review, when employees are happy, productivity increases by 31%. Plus, with time-saving technologies, you can spare the few minutes it takes to praise your employees without stressing. 

4. Prioritize Your Employees’ Mental Health

Working in the QSR industry is not an easy feat, especially during a labor shortage. 67% of employees believe burnout has worsened since the pandemic, according to a recent report from Indeed. Symptoms of burnout include overwhelming feelings of exhaustion, decrease in productivity and job satisfaction, and even an increase in employee turnover. You’ve probably seen it firsthand by now and may have experienced burnout yourself. 

Ensure your employees are taking care of their mental health — so they can be their most productive and healthy selves — by providing them with mental health resources like an Employee Assistance Program (EAP). These mental health programs offer different types of free counseling to help achieve a healthy well-being. You can also schedule one-on-one meetings with each employee where a range of topics like projects, productivity, and health are addressed. Don’t be afraid to share what helps you overcome burnout. Open communication is key! 

Take Care of Your QSR Employees

Your employees’ job satisfaction and overall well-being is crucial for their sense of fulfillment and your restaurant’s success, especially during a labor shortage. High employee turnover and burnout don’t have to be a reality when your staff is equipped with the right resources. Ensure that your employees recognize managerial support when you implement these strategies and time-saving technologies. After all, investing in your team builds an environment of trust, reliability, and accelerated problem solving.