COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH)–As business picks up at Central Ohio restaurants, many in the industry are having a hard time filling their open positions.
“It’s now the number one issue for the industry,” said John Barker, President, and CEO of the Ohio Restaurant Association.
According to Barker, the staffing shortage at area restaurants is due to a number of factors. In some cases, he said people have changed jobs and started new careers. In other instances, employees
are having a difficult time finding childcare. Barker also told NBC4 some employees are concerned about contracting COVID-19, while many are making more on unemployment than they would in a restaurant.
Lindsey Teetor, from Cameron Mitchell Restaurants and Rusty Bucket Restaurant and Tavern, explained some of the challenges she and her team are seeing.
“People are not applying and if they do apply, our biggest challenge is — we’re spinning our wheels to get people to come in for interviews,” she said.
Teetor said the company is offering incentives to attract future employees.
“We’re doing everything from referral bonuses for our internal associates who bring associates in, to signing bonuses for outside hires,” she said. “We do a culinary signing bonus, which you’ll see a lot of people that are doing that right now in the market.”
At High Bank Distillery, in Grandview Heights, Jordan Helman said it has been a constant battle to keep the staffing levels right, which has forced him to make some adjustments.
“In the back of the house, especially, we’re paying about 20% more than we used to, and that’s just to stay competitive with people around the city,” he explained.
Helman also said he believes the staffing shortage will force the restaurant industry to make changes, in the future.
“We’ve got to find ways to position restaurant jobs as more career-oriented jobs,” he said. “There needs to be a bigger focus on development. There needs to be a bigger focus on employee benefits. We just have to find more ways to get competitive against other industries.”
While the staffing shortage is ongoing, employees say they are hopeful more people will join the industry in the coming weeks and months.