The sign on the door read “DINING ROOM CLOSED–STAFF SHORTAGE.” The note went on to explain that the drive thru was open, but due to staff shortages, they are unable to offer a dine-in option to their guests. This is at least the third restaurant I’ve seen in this situation.
There are staff shortages just about everywhere you look all of a sudden. Worlds of Fun announced that it needed to close two days a week because of a staff shortage. Parents are being pulled out of the stands to referee or umpire youth sporting events.
A common excuse many will say is the cause of these shortages is extended unemployment payments by the government due to the Coronavirus. There is some truth to that reasoning. But there are also some other reasons if you dig a little deeper at what these shortages have in common. Nearly all of the industries that are seeing shortages right now are service industries. Restaurants. Hotels. Theme parks. They are also, usually, low-paying and minimum wage jobs.
I can tell you that my son and a number of his friends aren’t receiving any weekly stipend from the government, and they have all chosen summer jobs far away from low-paying service jobs. “I am not going to put up with that crap,” my son said. Well, he didn’t say, “crap.” But you get the idea.
The reason people aren’t working at your fast food restaurant or at your theme park is right there in the paragraph above. “Low-paying” and “service industry.” Low paying is pretty self-explanatory, and if the government is going to pay some of that money – I’m likely going to sit this round out. But the part that’s not mentioned is that service workers are pretty fed up with all of us. This has gone beyond just sending back soup because it’s cold. People are nasty to service workers. And now that service workers are pseudo-mask police as well as handing over your french fries? Who wants to do that?
My wife constantly talks about her time as a teenage worker at Worlds of Fun and I can’t imagine what those jobs are like in 2021. They haven’t gotten any better, I’m sure of that – and they started off pretty crummy to begin with. Sweeping up vomit after rides. Letting people yell at you because you’re out of funnel cakes. Arguing with a lady whose kid is too short to ride the rides. Hard pass. Now mix in that these people have been cooped up for nearly two years with complete freedom to use no filters on the Internet? I’m not getting near those jobs with a 10-foot pole.
I am sorry to the business owners who have this problem. You certainly can’t fix the manners of your clients or patrons. You can hope to instill a pleasant atmosphere and encourage friendliness at your establishment. But, I mean, come on. Someone shot a lady in the face the other day when she asked them to put on their mask. The world has jumped the crazy train.
You can, however, fix the other part of the problem. I know this will take away from the bottom line, but you’ve got to pay these folks more in order to put up with this garbage. I don’t know what that magic number is. But I’ll tell you that my kid isn’t going to take $10 an hour to be yelled at all day. And I wouldn’t either. When not working is an option, these folks are going to choose not to work. Now. Maybe $15 or $18 or $20 an hour might find them some smile armor. But I can imagine this isn’t something these owners are looking to do. For now, I will just plan to order in the drive-thru, and smile. Because I don’t see them fixing their staffing problem any time soon.
(Get staffed with Chris Kamler on Twitter, where you’ll find him pontificating as @TheFakeNed)