Staff vacancies rose for more than a third of chain restaurants during the first quarter, marking the toughest times most have ever faced in recruiting unit-level employees, according to the latest TDn2K Workforce Index.
The report described rising restaurant-level staff vacancies as an industry threat.
The inability to operate at full staff undoubtedly lowered service levels, which were once again found to be the key difference between restaurants that raised their sales and those that suffered a decline, the report concluded. Outstanding service scores were a stronger indicator of same-store sales growth than such factors as food quality and ambiance, according to TDn2K.
Those gaps in staff have been increasing for several quarters, but not at the rate clocked in Q1, the researcher said. About 38% of chain operations said their unfilled hourly jobs had increased at the unit level, and only 10% said they had made progress toward being fully staffed. Roughly a third (35%) also reported a rise in the number of unit-level management posts they were unable to fill, while only 12% said they managed to reduce vacancies during the three-month period.
TDn2K attributed the surge in vacancies to a combination of sky-high turnover and the creation of more restaurant jobs. It noted that the number of positions industrywide grew in March by 2.7%, an acceleration from the 2.6% clocked in February.