6 Effective Ways to Resolve Understaffing Problems in Modern Restaurants

Understaffing is a common challenge faced by modern restaurants, often leading to decreased efficiency, compromised service quality, and employee burnout. But by employing technology and collaborating with staffing agencies, managers can create a harmonious work environment, ensure customer satisfaction, and drive long-term success.

What is understaffing?

Staff shortage occurs when there are not enough employees to do the job and properly meet the needs of the business. This can affect many different parts of the restaurant, such as those serving customers (such as hosts, waiters, and bartenders) and kitchen staff. Lack of manpower can be caused by factors such as staff not coming to work unexpectedly, large number of employees leaving and new employees needing training, number of customers changing at different times of the year, working hours, etc. do not work well or have no staff or money to hire more workers.

What are the effects of understaffing in restaurants and hotels?

Without enough staff to prepare orders and serve customers, restaurants, and hotels find themselves in a difficult position. First off, understaffing means you have less staff than you would normally need to operate effectively. Here are some of the challenges that an understaffed restaurant may have to deal with:

Decreased Quality of Service

Understaffing affects employee morale negatively. The few available workers may feel overworked and unappreciated. In return, this may lead to stress, burnout, and resentment. In the long run, they will perform poorly and lack the motivation to maintain your organizational culture. They may also lack the enthusiasm to attend to customers.

One of the most direct and visible effects of a shortage of human resources is the decline in the quality of service provided to customers. Longer waiting times, errors in orders, and general lack of attention are some of the consequences that customers can experience. These issues have a direct impact on their overall experience. When customers notice a decline in service quality, they may be dissatisfied and choose to do business elsewhere.

This decrease in service quality may affect the facility. Negative word-of-mouth referrals, online reviews, and social media posts can quickly lead to a poor experience. This negative publicity can be difficult to reverse and can even deter potential customers from trying the facility. In addition, loyal customers who have frequented the place may look for alternatives, resulting in customer loss.

Decreased Customer Satisfaction

With each waiter serving more tables than the recommended average, some customers may experience longer waiting times. For understaffed kitchens, customers may wait longer, and the food quality may as well be lower than expected.

Furthermore, according to Danny Meyers, your guests can tell if your employees are enjoying their work based on their interactions. Guests are more likely to return to restaurants where the waiters and cashiers are happy and enthusiastic when doing their work.

Employee Turnover

With time, resentment and burnout may become untenable, leading to an employee quitting their position in search of better opportunities. According to PeopleKeep, replacing an employee may cost up to nine months of their salary to cover the recruitment and training expenses.

Additionally, when one employee quits the job, those who remain may tend to disengage and become less productive. Therefore, business owners must adopt strategies that reduce staff turnover and promote team spirit. This may be possible by avoiding overworking employees and embracing their feedback in the day-to-day management of the business.

In the face of these challenges, it’s important for hospitality business owners to implement strategies to reduce employee turnover and promote teamwork and cohesion. One effective approach is to avoid overworking employees. This can be achieved by ensuring that the number of employees is sufficient to meet the needs of the facility, thereby avoiding excessive workloads that contribute to burnout.

Loss of Revenue Due to Low Table Turnover

When there are not enough staff members to efficiently handle the influx of customers, it can result in longer wait times for tables to be cleared and prepared for new guests. As a result, customers who are waiting for the table may become frustrated and decide to leave, opting for another restaurant with quicker service. This not only leads to a direct loss of potential revenue from those customers but also damages the restaurant’s reputation, as dissatisfied customers may share their negative experiences with others. Moreover, slow service can discourage customers from ordering additional items, reducing the overall revenue generated per table.

In addition, the adverse effects of slow service can also manifest in the restaurant itself. Customers who wait for a long time may be less likely to order additional items, such as appetizers, desserts, or drinks. This can significantly reduce the total revenue generated per table, which will affect the restaurant’s bottom line.

Understaffing May Lead To Deterioration in Quality of Customer Service
A waitress seemingly in an argument with a restaurant guest.

6 Ways To Resolve Understaffing Problems in Your Restaurant

Addressing and resolving understaffing issues is crucial for restaurant owners and managers to maintain a well-functioning business, ensure consistent service quality, and create a positive work environment for their employees. We understand that there is no bullet proof method of dealing with this issue since some of the causes are entirely out of your control. However, we believe that you can keep your business going by implementing these six strategies:

Evaluate Your Staffing Needs and Plan Ahead

An important way to address workforce shortages is to plan your workforce intelligently. Start by looking at past data and predicting future needs to determine how much staff you should have in different shifts and at different times of the year. This forward-thinking approach allows you to pre-adjust your workforce, so you don’t have to rush to find workers at the last minute.

For example, you might consider hiring interns and hiring temporary staff when the business is very busy, then downsizing when things slow down. This ensures that your regular staff is not overwhelmed and everyone who walks through your door receives good service.

Implement Technology Solutions

The use of technology can really help solve the staffing problem in today’s restaurants. You can make things easier by using online ordering systems like GonnaOrder, order management systems, cash registers and kitchen software to automate tasks and keep things running. out smoothly. When you apply technology to your restaurant, you can ensure that your employees are productive, and it won’t be a big deal when you’re short of staff.

When you make good use of technology, it can accompany your employees. Some of the important software that you may want to use include desk or online order taking tools, hiring and payroll management, scheduling, and communication applications.

Streamline Hiring, Recruitment, and Retention Practices

To address talent shortages, it’s essential to streamline your hiring and employee relations processes. Make your job postings more engaging to attract the right candidates, using an online platform and partnering with local culinary schools or recruitment agencies. Also, consider regularly looking for new employees so you have a pool of qualified candidates ready to replace quickly if the need arises.

Besides hiring, it is equally important to put in place measures and practices that improve the employee experience in your restaurant. For example, involving your employees in the decision-making process can help foster a friendly work environment. On the other hand, scolding one employee in a team meeting demoralizes them and could lead to resentment. It is always better for the team to take responsibility instead of blaming individual members when things go wrong.

Invest in Employee Training and Development

Enhancing the skills and knowledge of your existing staff is vital to combat understaffing. Invest in comprehensive training programs that empower employees to handle various roles and responsibilities within the restaurant. Cross-training employees not only enables seamless workflow adjustments but also boosts employee morale and job satisfaction.

Additional training may be required when you introduce new technology to the restaurant. Such training should not only focus on how employees can use the technology but also on why it is essential for the restaurant. It is important to reassure your employees that the technological solutions are meant to make their work easier and not replace them.

Foster a Positive Work Culture

Creating a positive work culture is instrumental in retaining employees and attracting new talent. Recognize and reward exceptional performance, offer competitive compensation packages, and provide opportunities for growth and advancement. By prioritizing employee well-being and job satisfaction, you can reduce turnover rates and maintain a motivated workforce.

Although it may seem trivial, providing a staff meal at the end of the day can go a long way in enhancing employee satisfaction. Another way would be to schedule your shifts so that employees have a guaranteed regular day off when they can rest or attend to their personal needs.

Foster Effective Communication

Establishing clear and open lines of communication between management and staff is crucial in resolving understaffing issues. Regularly communicate staffing needs, shift schedules, and any changes that may affect employees. Encourage feedback from staff members and address their concerns promptly. A transparent and collaborative environment promotes teamwork and ensures everyone is on the same page.

As part of the communication plan, it is important to regularly hold team meetings and discuss your successes and challenges. For example, you can have a daily or weekly meeting to discuss changes in the menu, take feedback, or celebrate reaching your daily/weekly sales targets.

How GonnaOrder Helps You Deal With Understaffing

GonnaOrder is a restaurant management software that helps to solve staff shortages by streamlining operations, providing online ordering, table reservation, inventory management and automation, allowing restaurants to optimize personnel according to customer requirements. Read the ways to find out how GonnaOrder helps with dealing understaffing.

Cover staff deficit

GonnaOrder provides an effective solution to solve the challenges caused by the lack of manpower in the restaurant. To do this, it gives customers the opportunity to order independently. This self-service feature becomes especially beneficial when there is a shortage of staff willing to take orders. With GonnaOrder, customers can navigate the menu, make selections, and send their orders to the kitchen through a user-friendly interface. This not only minimizes the impact of staffing shortages, but also ensures a smooth and efficient ordering process, even during peak times.

Improved efficiency per table

GonnaOrder effectively eliminates this waiting time. It empowers customers to take control of their dining experience by allowing them to browse menus, select and submit orders independently through an intuitive and user-friendly interface. This means that customers no longer have to wait for the server to serve them. They can order food quickly, ensuring that their preferences are saved and delivered to the kitchen without unnecessary delay.

Improves the waiting staff’s efficiency

With GonnaOrder as your digital waiter for table ordering, the waiting staff will be more involved in serving orders rather than taking new orders. This way, waiters can serve more people with reduced back-and-forth order confirmation trips.

GonnaOrder’s efficiency in taking initial orders means that the server can serve more customers in the same amount of time. This streamlined process not only improves the overall efficiency of wait staff, but also helps speed up table turnover. Restaurants can serve more diners, leading to increased revenue potential, even in a workforce shortage.

Lower cost on recruitment and training

The adoption of a digital server streamlines the order-taking process and eases the burden on service staff when taking orders manually. This increased efficiency can lead to improved employee morale. Employees often appreciate tools that make their jobs easier and more manageable. When employees are satisfied and feel less stressed at work, they are more likely to stay with the restaurant for a long time.

A high turnover rate can place a significant financial burden on a restaurant. Recruiting and training new employees includes costs associated with job offers, interviews, background checks, and training. However, as employee turnover decreases due to increased job satisfaction thanks to digital server technology, the need for regular recruitment will be minimized. This saves the restaurant a significant amount of money that would otherwise have been spent on finding and hiring new employees.

There Are Unlimited Benefits of Adopting a Digital Waiter
QR code on a table

Bottom Line

Understaffing can pose significant challenges for modern restaurants, impacting service quality, customer satisfaction, and overall profitability. However, by planning your workforce, adopting technology solutions, and fostering a positive work culture, restaurant owners and managers can mitigate the overall impact. You can create a thriving restaurant environment, delivering exceptional experiences to both employees and customers alike when you promote open communication and keep your employees informed and properly trained.

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