These 2 Major Companies Just Partnered Up To Hire More Restaurant Workers

In the United States, it seems that restaurant workers have put up with low wages, disrespectful customers, and exhausting hours for some time. For some people, the promise of a generous gratuity or the flexibility of being able to pick up shifts while going to school or seeking a full-time opportunity was enough to keep them coming back, but that seems to be changing. Especially as the global pandemic has turned the restaurant industry on its head. 

Frontline workers that deemed the risk of infection too high when restaurants began to reopen found other ways to make ends meet. Others just got tired of the constant grind with little to no feedback or acknowledgment (via Food & Wine). As weeks turned into months and months have now turned into years, hopes for a full-on sustainable recovery have dimmed. As one solution, standout companies Indeed and OpenTable are stepping into the void with a month-long initiative designed to jumpstart the hiring process for the restaurant industry, beginning on October 1. Here's why it's important.

According to a press release distributed by BusinessWire, the National Restaurant Association estimates 1 million restaurant jobs are currently unfilled (compared to pre-pandemic levels). A mid-year update from the NRA (via Food & Wine) also says 75% of restaurant owners cite employee hiring and retention as their greatest challenge this year. And a significant portion of those employers pin the blame on the amount of unemployment benefits that were extended through early September.

But that assumption may be ill-conceived. A former restaurant worker, and the author of the Food & Wine article, says, "It's not unemployment benefits that are stopping workers like me from returning to restaurants. In March 2020, most of us were cast off like yesterday's trash." The author continued, "It's not unemployment benefits that are giving us pause: It's the feeling of being, well, over it."

Indeed and OpenTable are looking to boost restaurant hiring in October

To better facilitate a connection between restaurant employers and potential employees, job site Indeed and online reservation portal OpenTable are joining together to launch a hiring initiative meant to help boost hiring. Called Interview Days: Restaurant Jobs, the month-long drive kicks off October 1 and is centered around free online tools designed to help the two parties connect and to better facilitate interviews (via Fast Company). In addition to assets helping employers find qualified candidates, there's also a designated portal for job seekers to better find jobs that suit them, says BusinessWire. That includes improved search functions as well as opportunities to participate in virtual workshops and coaching. For employers, there's also incentives, like better hiring tools and guides and checklists to steer them through the process; plus, many who do hire during the month-long program will earn a $200 Sponsored Jobs credit from Indeed.

OpenTable and Indeed also partnered with restaurateur Martha Hoover for the initiative. Hoover owns and operates 12 restaurants in the Indianapolis area, and she too recognizes the problem goes deeper than employees opting for a temporary safety net in the form of unemployment compensation. Hoover wrote on the OpenTable Blog, "Today, my company owns and operates 12 restaurants in the Indianapolis area and employs more than 300 people. Part of our benefits include paid time off, parental leave, health insurance, an emergency relief fund, a wellness program, and opportunities for advancement and career growth." Hoover knows from personal experience the things that will help the restaurant industry attract and retain qualified workers and plans to help imbue them into the Interview Days program.

It's not an overnight fix, but it may at least provide a road to long-term recovery. As Hoover pointed out on the OpenTable Blog, citing data from a report by the Aspen Institute, "Nine out of 10 restaurant managers started out in entry-level positions, and 80% of restaurants are owned by people who started out at the entry-level position. Although there is an impression that restaurant work is transitional and temporary, the truth is that for most of its employees, the bulk of their career years are spent in the industry."