WTVM Editorial 07/31/23: WANTED: Restaurant Workers

Published: Jul. 31, 2023 at 11:46 AM EDT
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COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - When it comes to restaurants in our area there is no shortage to choose from.

What there is NOT plenty of, is restaurant workers.

I recently experienced what many of you have also seen for yourselves. Dinner at a popular restaurant became a frustrating night out because of a long wait, food mix-ups or poorly trained servers. All because the restaurant could not attract and keep good workers.

The wait staff that was on duty did the best they could. They tried to be attentive and bring diners everything they asked for, even when some customers had to ask more than once - and not always in a pleasant tone. Our waitress thanked me for having patience, and I asked her why she thinks they can’t hire enough staff.

She answered quote, “No one wants to work anymore.”

And she’s right. But why is that exactly?

One factor is the often unstable or long work hours in food service, leading to high turnover rates and feelings of economic insecurity.

Another involves tips – an important incentive for restaurant workers.

The director of tax policy for the group Americans for Tax Reform says, “Those 87,000 new IRS agents they promised would only go after the rich…are coming after waitresses’ tips.”

That’s enough to make any good server who works extra hard, hoping for a few more percentage points added to the tip, wonder if it’s worth the effort.

In the end, the value of any job transcends a paycheck.

A job gives you a feeling of self-worth and belonging, whether it’s a first job or a career. Even so, attracting workers to the hospitality industry remains difficult.

One reason is the customers. You’ve probably seen the signs asking customers to be “kind” to the staff. Such a sign shouldn’t be necessary. But apparently there are enough rude patrons, or restaurants wouldn’t have to post those signs.

So, it’s going to take a while – probably a long while - before restaurants are able to fully staff up.

Get used to seeing open tables when you arrive, yet still being told it will be a 45 minute wait.

The number of empty tables doesn’t matter.

These days, if you’re going to have an outstanding dining experience, the number and abilities of the restaurant’s cooks and servers is what matters most.