Most Colorado restaurants struggle to hire workers

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Companies are struggling to hire a workforce that can meet the new demand now that COVID restrictions are loosening and people are looking for things to do.

COLORADO, USA – Just as COVID-19 restrictions start to lift and customers are eager to get out and start over, it’s hard to find workers for some industries right now.

The Stanley Marketplace in Aurora, which is home to about 50 different companies, hopes to help many companies find new employees with a job fair on Monday.

“The staff are thin; people are definitely exhausted, ”said Ally Fredeen, Managing Director of Stanley Marketplace. “You have business owners who work weeks in a row without a break, management and their staff as well. They are stretched. They hang on and do their best. “

The problem is statewide, where nine in ten Colorado restaurants are struggling to hire, according to the results of a new survey by the Colorado Restaurant Association.

Among restaurants surveyed from April 23 to May 7, the CRA said:

  • 65% of operators believe that the main obstacle to hiring is that workers prefer to continue to receive unemployment benefits
  • About 15% of operators say their workers have left the restaurant industry for other jobs
  • Over 10% of city operators have increased competition for hiring as a factor in the shortage problem

“We were wondering how it was going to be when we got out of the pandemic, and it’s by no means so abundant in the workforce,” said Nicolas Farrell, who owns Mondo Market at Stanley Marketplace and who currently hiring as well.

“Our challenge is to really understand how to be picky in a market where you can’t be picky.”

In the same survey, the CRA indicates that 84% of restaurants say they have changed the way they hire and retain employees:

  • 95% have higher wage rates
  • 21% have started offering benefit packages

“The giveaway in what happened with COVID is that anyone who wasn’t watching it is being forced, that is, ‘raising’ the standard in our industry that many of us have been operating for many years. , they are now obliged to do so. Said Farrell.

“You should be creating sustainable jobs for people. Just because you’re tossing a pot, washing a dish, helping guests doesn’t make you less valuable to someone behind a desk. “

The Stanley Market Career Fair runs from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on Monday, May 24.

“It’s a real job fair in that there is something for everyone,” said Fredeen. “We have roles available in wellness, beauty, fitness… we are hiring a kickbox instructor! We need leaders; we need food and beverage, retail workers. “

She added, there are summer jobs available for teens looking for something at the end of the school year.

Sonia Riggs, President and CEO of the Colorado Restaurant Association, made this statement on the current state of the staffing shortage in Colorado’s restaurant industry:

“Hiring and retention are extremely pressing issues for restaurants right now, as Level Clear goes into effect, removing capacity restrictions in restaurants and bars. In a recent survey, more than 90% of Colorado restaurants said they were struggling to hire enough staff for the summer patio season. And now, with social distancing requirements lifted and nearly every restaurant in Colorado trying to hire workers, there is a serious staff shortage statewide.

Restaurants cite many reasons for this staffing crisis, including increased unemployment benefits, workers leaving the industry for other jobs, and increased competition for hire. It is a complex situation.

But the recovery of restaurants from the effects of the pandemic has already started and there are incredible opportunities for conscious hospitality workers to join the industry at all levels. Operators across the state tell us they’re upbeat and investing in changes to build back better than ever and continue to make their restaurants safe, fair and rewarding for customers and workers. Salaries are higher than ever, and benefits are becoming an increasingly common part of restaurant pay, including mental health and wellness programs.

It’s a whole new day for restaurants, and we hope all levels of government will support the industry’s recruiting efforts. We’re happy that the governor’s office is taking action with the Colorado Jumpstart program to get people back to work, although we would have preferred the program to target industries most affected by the pandemic, including restaurants. That said, removing some of the barriers to returning to work – such as child care issues – with these incentives is a huge step forward for restaurants and small businesses in this state.

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