The Australian hospitality industry is struggling. There’s no ignoring this.
With the rules in a constant state of flux, Omicron has brought us to our knees.
Last year’s crisis and the ending of the Jobkeeper & Jobsaver schemes, paints a heartbreaking, grim future.
But, the show must go on so, here are some solutions that could ease the staffing struggle and keep your doors open as often as possible.
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Limit the risks
With closures (even temporarily) becoming a very real possibility due to staff having to isolate from being even a close contact, it makes more sense than ever to do everything in your power to protect yourself and your team.
And there are a few ways you can do this.
You can suspend your dine-in service, offering only takeaway. Whilst this is an extreme and potentially unpopular route to take, it would drastically cut down on the face-to-face time between your staff and possibly infected customers.
And if going 100% takeaway isn’t your thing, think about switching your seating to alfresco only. Of course you’ll need the right permissions and space to do this, but it does cut down on the odds of an airborne virus spreading if everybody’s outside.
If Omicron’s already affecting your trade, perhaps consider adjusting your opening hours, closing on the quieter days to limit the physical interactions with your customers. This has the added benefit of maximising the profits you’re still making by saving on staffing, inventory, and overhead costs.
Be sensible with your wages
With a staff shortage comes a hint of desperation sometimes, and this seems to be manifesting itself (a little worryingly) in staff wages. Bigger, more profitable venues have begun to offer wildly inflated wages in an attempt to lure staff away from jobs at smaller venues.
This is, of course, not sustainable in the long run.
Once the pandemic has passed and the hospitality landscape begins to normalise, the high wages on offer at the moment could prove to be prohibitive for a venue to continue paying. This could cause venues to release the staff on these high wages, or if they choose to honour their commitments, see some venues suffer due to unsustainable staffing costs.
A better way would be to boost your existing staff or apprentice’s current wages and include some more duties into their job descriptions. This way you can still nurture your team, reward them for the hard work they’ve put in through multiple lockdowns, and still have a manageable payroll once things get back to normal.
Be a proactive employer
Put systems in place to be able to deal with the scenarios outlined above such as:
- Providing masks & sanitiser for your team
- Ensuring you have the right permits if outdoor dining is an option for you
- Put aside some savings (if possible) so that if a staff member has to isolate and can’t work, they can still afford to live
- Utilise your POS to introduce table ordering, limiting the amount of contact between customers and staff
It’s important to keep vigilant to ensure that your venue and your team are as protected against COVID as possible. It’s the best chance we’ve got against this latest staff shortage.
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