Foodservice operators know only too well how challenging it’s become to run a restaurant. The high cost of real estate, the arduous task of recruiting and retaining employees and the mounting barrage of new legislation often make operators question why they’re in business. Add to that technology’s dizzying rate of growth and it’s enough to make your head spin.
Through it all, it’s hard to deny that progress has been made. One need only look at how menus have evolved to become healthier, the growing importance of local and the role of technology in making the industry more efficient. But, if you look at the industry’s evolution through the lens of millennials, the rate of change is perhaps not fast enough; nor is it as far reaching as they would like. After all, the reality is, this cohort loves disruption and demands that the world change and do it faster. Operators need to ask themselves whether millennials will want to work in this industry if change doesn’t happen quickly?
Granted, running a business is harder than ever, but to move forward, the industry needs to not only attract the right people, it needs to retain them and it can’t do either if this industry isn’t viewed as strong, professional and in step with today’s needs. Bottom line: labour is the industry’s biggest challenge. Beyond recruiting and retaining, the industry needs to be viewed positively and ethically. Sound daunting? Perhaps, but amid these challenges there are myriad opportunities to improve how we look at the industry, what we expect from employees and how we treat them. It’s all part of building a healthy work environment; smart operators will work to figure out new ways to speak to what the millennial cohort wants.
It’s only to everyone’s benefit. After all, according to the Conference Board of Canada, 58 per cent of 383 large and mid-sized corporations it interviewed in 2016, reported difficulty recruiting and retaining staff. As a story by Virginia Galt in the Globe and Mail on December 17, 2016 stated: “With an average voluntary turnover rate of 7.8 per cent in 2016 and with nine per cent of the workforce expected to retire in the next five years, many organizations are becoming more proactive with their retention strategies.” Unfortunately, the foodservice industry hasn’t always been viewed in the best light when it comes to treating staff properly — whether it’s paying them well, training and developing them, or promoting gender equality in its ranks. Ultimately, if attracting top talent who are committed to grow within your organization is important to you, then it’s time to move the needle on this issue forward — or risk being left in the dust.