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Labor Day takes on new meaning

Unless you’ve been living under a rock or never leave your house, you’re likely aware of the shortages of workers in many (most) industries these days. As we celebrate another Labor Day Holiday, it may be a good time to reflect on how much we rely on each other as workers.

I went out of town for the weekend and on two occasions was in restaurants that were sorely lacking in staff. The first was a burger place upon which we were greeted by a cashier announcing prior to us ordering food that because they were short staffed, it would be at least 30 minutes before our food would be ready. My first impression was that feelings would not be slighted if we turned and walked out, but they clearly wanted us to be prepared (rightly so as it turned out). As we were waiting, they posted signs on the doors for people coming in, stating that there would likely be a wait and that they would be allowing for take-out orders only for the remainder of the evening.

The second was a more upscale restaurant where we were greeted and seated promptly, but that’s when the waiting began. There was a group of eight of us, so a slightly larger table, but we were given no indication that it would be an issue. Food was ordered and after about 30 minutes and being told it would still be a little while, we asked if we could at least get food for the two children at the table (which they did bring out). The remaining orders, most of them, were brought out about 20 minutes later—one meal was cold to the touch (not on purpose) and one meal was missing. With one meal returned and the other MIA, the waitress was nonplussed and didn’t seem to understand why we were frustrated.

I realize that the people on the front lines are not the ones responsible. They actually do come to work and are doing what they can. However, managers need to ensure they are messaging the issues, providing scripts for the workers as to what to say or do, and being more proactive in setting expectations. The burger restaurant handled things much better in my view than the upscale restaurant.

With retention and turnover issues complicating staffing shortages, are managers doing everything they can to help provide flexibility where warranted and support to staff, especially those directly facing customers/clients? If we as managers are not doing what we can to provide solutions, we should not be surprised when employees leave.

Thank your staff for coming to work and help them problem solve any issues they may be facing due to staffing shortages. As for the rest of us, we need to show patience and do what we can to patronize the companies supporting their employees.

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