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Help, Is There Anyone Out There?

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

We see help wanted signs on doors, marquees, Facebook, and Instagram.  The number of jobs that are requesting help is alarming and it continues to be a constant problem as the weeks go on. Ever since the pandemic reared its ugly head, many chose not to go back to work or seek employment elsewhere. But it still does not change the fact that places of business need help and need it fast. 

A dear friend of mine and previous coworker, Olivia Ensminger, gave me an insight into what it is like dealing with being short-staffed at her job. Olivia currently works as a caregiver at the Riverwest Retirement Community in Wenatchee, Washington. As caregivers, they have a lot of responsibilities when it comes to the care of their residents. I asked her what the hardest part of her job during this difficult time was, she said that caring for all her residents when it is only her and one other caregiver is extremely taxing. She mentioned that it is especially difficult working with brand new caregivers, and they are not getting the right training right out of the gate because they just need help now. I then asked Olivia what you wish people would understand about how hard it is being so short-staffed. She said, “I wish my management team could understand how much it takes out of us as caregivers, especially when the residents are upset when we don’t have time to shower them or do certain tasks.” Being short-staffed in the world of healthcare is a scary situation but it’s not just that area of the world being affected. 

A Wall Street Journal article from back in late June discussed how since a lot of workers chose not to come back to work, they had to make upgrades and rely on technology. Casual dining chains are leaning on technology to make the sit-down restaurant experience more automated for guests and more streamlined for busy employees. In some cases, this idea was created to compensate for the shortage of servers. Restaurant chains like Cracker Barrel, Dave & Buster’s Entertainment and many others allow for contactless ordering and paying to help the stresses of short staffing. Cracker Barrel’s dine-in customers can pay for their meals through an app on their phones or tablets at all their 660-plus Southern-themed restaurants. Sandra B. Cochran, Cracker Barrel’s President and Chief Executive, said, “The more we can move volume to things like that, it takes the pressure off the labor in the stores.” She also commented, “Staffing has become challenging at Cracker Barrel, which has classified the personnel situation at 10% of its restaurants as “critical.” What restaurants are shifting to now is investments in technology to solve some of the problems. Is technology the beginning of a human takeover in the everyday workforce? 

A lot of casual dining chains are implementing this to ease the pressure off the waitstaff who returned to work once pandemic restrictions were lifted. As we have learned over this period, customers are headed back to hospitality businesses in droves while many workers did not. The U.S. Labor Department counted 993,000 unfilled jobs at restaurants at the end of March of 2021. Their owners are trying various tactics to encourage people to apply by increasing pay wages and adding bonuses. Fast-food restaurants have been supplementing servers and cashiers with self-serve kiosks for about a decade, in hopes to bump up profit margins and keep the ordering process speedy. But there is a debate about systems like this coming into casual dining restaurants, said John Glass, a managing director and equity analyst covering restaurants at Morgan Stanley. Glass said, “If face-to-face interaction is important to your brand, and you suddenly took it away, you’ve removed a layer of the brand differentiation.” More full-service chains have begun integrating tabletop technology into the dining experience because it demonstrates its value, both for customer’s experience and the restaurant’s bottom line said Deepthi Prakash, global director of product and marketing TBWA/Worldwide, an Omnicom Group Inc. advertising agency. Another example of a company making these changes is Dave & Buster’s, which offers customers arcade games alongside food and drink at 141 locations. They have earmarked around 15 million for hiring programs and retention initiatives. They are also expanding its contactless service model which relies on a mobile web platform running on tablets provided by the restaurant. Margo Manning, Chief Operating Officer said, “the stores operating on this platform have been able to expand the size of server sections and reduce staffing levels to be more efficient.” Manning also mentioned, “if the guest is uncomfortable and is looking for the server experience, we can adapt.” But so far, they have had high guest adoption of this change. 

Whether you’re going to a store, restaurant, or any other business remember to be patient and be kind. You may have seen lots of signs on the doors of establishments to be understanding of this current circumstance. Don’t forget, they showed up to serve you, to help you, to give you customer service. Appreciate the people that showed up. 

My name is Katelyn Richardson. I am 27 years old. I am currently attending Central Washington University studying my bachelors degree in food and sciences to become a nutritionist and later a diabetes educator for kids. I've been personally battling type 1 diabetes since I was six years old. I love being outside, vintage shopping, watching movies, and going to stock car races!
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