The foodservice industry was the nation’s second largest private sector employer pumping $2 trillion into the economy before COVID-19 struck. A September 2020 National Restaurant Association Survey of 100,000 U.S. restaurants says nearly one in six have shuttered due to the economic impact of the Pandemic. What does that mean for the New Year?

We all know the story. Over the last year bars, restaurants, and hotels across the country were forced to shut down amid growing cases of COVID-19. Thousands of employees were laid off. During the summer, these businesses reopened with capacity restrictions varying by state, and recently here in Indiana even by county.

LGC is a national staffing company. Prior to the Pandemic, the company’s niche was hospitality supporting job staffing for large scale events, gig workers in restaurants, workers for conferences and employees for hotel services. While we’ve diversified our business over the last several months, we continue to keep an eye on how the hospitality and restaurant business will be impacted in the New Year. Business will return in the future, but owners will be doing things differently.

Increased Need for Temp Workers

Several recent dynamics lead us to believe there will be an increase in temp worker usage in 2021. One of those is the rise in delivery services. Doordash, one of the most prominent and popular delivery platforms, reported almost $2 billion in revenue this year from January to September, an increase of over 200% for the same time period the year before. With competition high amongst the food delivery services, these businesses are now competing for available workers to take on the delivery driver role.

Added reasons for temp workers include the need for social distancing monitors, temperature takers, and other COVID-19 protocol requirements that do not mean full-time, payroll staffers. Businesses owners tend to be making the decision to either supplement their current teams with temporary employees or go full-temporary as needed. 

Continued Rise of Ghost Kitchens
Ghost kitchens have experienced massive growth due to the emergence of the COVID-19. Known sometimes as a virtual or dark kitchen, a ghost kitchen is fully functional and designed to create restaurant-quality delivery meals without the need for dine in (or even to-go) business. According to Restaurant Business Online, “The boom in ghost kitchens catalyzed by the COVID-19 will likely outlast the pandemic itself: According to Technomic, sales via ghost restaurants from 300 facilities in the United States will rise by a projected 25% each year for the next 5 years—an estimated $300 million in yearly sales.”

Hiring for Soft Skills
Managers who are looking to rehire and rebuild teams should seek candidates who have great soft skills; as in, the personality and character traits that make us who we are. Some examples of soft skills include great leader, effective communicator or exceptional with time management. Some people are promoters, others are supporters and still some are analyzers. By comparison, hard skills are the technical abilities we possess that make us good at our specific jobs, such as certifications or trainings. Hard skills can be learned, soft skills typically cannot.

Outspoken Company Culture
More and more companies have chosen to voice opinions about important topics including diversity, inclusion and police brutality. While this most likely stems from recent headlines and company leader’s beliefs and moral obligations, it’s also driven by consumers demands.

  • According to a 2019 survey, “A major consideration for brand purchase is, ‘I must be able to trust the brand to do what is right,’ which is 81%.”
  • The report also shows “53% of consumers say every brand has a responsibility to get involved in at least one social issue that does not directly impact its business.”

For these reasons, companies will continue to evaluate when and how they speak out about social justice issues.

Restaurants and other hospitality venues will be pulling out all the stops in order to attract guests and drive revenue. Because managers are concerned about layoffs, they’ll be hiring workers who can fit a number of roles – and will depend on staffing firms that can provide flexible workers with great soft skills who can fit their culture.

George Lessmeister is CEO and founder of LGC Hospitality, a hospitality staffing firm that works with hotel and restaurant leadership. The company is headquartered in Indianapolis operating in over 30 cities across the country.

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