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4 new labor worries threatening foodservice directors this week

Even more than usual, labor issues were top of mind for noncommercial foodservice directors and restaurateurs at this year’s NRA Show in Chicago.

That’s because less than a week earlier, the government widened the threshold by which employees qualify for overtime, a change that could put even more pressure on dining department budgets.

But that isn’t the only labor nightmare that could cause already talent-strapped FSDs to lose sleep.

weekly time sheet

1. Uncertainty reigns over new overtime rules

Asked how they plan to deal with the new overtime rules, which say any employee clocking more than 40 hours a week is due overtime unless they earn more than $47,476 a year (a higher threshold), operators at the NRA Show generally weren’t yet ready or willing to talk.

One contract feeder on our Taste the Trends restaurant tour ventured that we might see more interest in self-serve kiosks. But the most common answer we got in the days post-ruling was a pregnant pause and heads shaking in exasperation.

wage feud business

2. Minimum wage may lead to feuds among neighbors

The patchwork of minimum wage laws is making it even more difficult for foodservice operators to compete for top-notch kitchen help.

Panelists at the NRA Show noted that they’re not only up against other employers in their area, but also those in neighboring cities that have a higher minimum wage by law.

Perhaps that's why some colleges and universities are getting out ahead of the legislation and raising the minimum wage for workers—including student workers—proactively.

elderly old man care cane

3. Your family-focused perks may need recalibrating

Operators thinking of boosting childcare benefits to attract talent may want to think again—at least in the long term. “Childcare won’t be your issue as an organization in the future. It will be eldercare,” said demographer Dr. James Johnson last month at the Restaurant Leadership Conference hosted by FSD’s parent company, Winsight. “That’s a $40 billion-a-year program in terms of lost workforce productivity.”

millennials business meeting

4. Your hiring process may be too slow for millennials

During an NRA Show panel on workforce practices, Ivar’s Restaurants’ director of recruiting and training noted that while it typically used to take 10 to 12 days to move a job candidate from application to hire, the process now is closer to five.

That could be one reason why foodservice operators are leaning more heavily on referrals for finding candidates in the first place. One Little Caesars restaurant exec, for example, told attendees that the pizza chain hires primarily from referrals.

Starting with like-minded referrals may shave time off the vetting process. As foodservice director Larry Altier of Lee Memorial Health System told FSD last year, it’s a sometimes overlooked tactic, but soliciting referrals helps employers find candidates who already have the same values as current successful employees.

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