Lack of restaurant and hospitality workers as companies try to hire

Lisa Zibbideo, Restaurant Manager at the Norwich Inn Spa, normally has 40 front desk staff.

When the pandemic hit, she lost many employees, with only a few hires, so she is currently 12 years old.

As the date for the full reopening of state operations on May 19 approaches, she has not received any applications for a managerial position, and if there is not enough staff, there are more. waiting for customers. Some amenities, like the juice bar, may even need to remain closed.

“I’ve brought in as much of my old staff as I can, and now we’re at the point where we need to bring in new people,” Zibbideo said.

Locally and across the country, it has been difficult to rehire people into positions in the restaurant and hospitality industries. The Arizona Republic reported earlier this month that Phoenix-area restaurants are running out of applications and people are not showing up for interviews and jobs they’ve been hired to do.

Some, including Eastern Connecticut Chamber of Commerce president Tony Sheridan, believe at least part of the reason people have been reluctant to return to work is due to the federal stimulus related to COVID.

“Second family workers and single parents get by with what they get from the government, stay home and raise their children,” Sheridan said.

Jack Djombali, owner of Jack’s Brick Oven pizzeria in Norwich, said he started advertising vacancies on Facebook earlier in the season but received an application during the same period he was getting normally 10 to 15.

Djombali even struggled to recover employees when the restaurants were only 50% open.

“They said, ‘We make more money at home than coming to work for you,’ so I said, ‘Okay, I’ll remember that,'” Djombali said.

Djombali said he had 15 employees, compared to 17 or 18 that he would normally employ. With good weather and the easing of restrictions coming, he wants the patio to be open to customers.

“We are trying to prepare for this, and it is not working very well,” Djombali said.

Angela Adams, executive director of the Greater Norwich Area Chamber of Commerce, said consumers could experience longer wait times if establishments are unable to meet their employment needs.

“Especially now that things are going to open up, it will be difficult for restaurants to keep pace and consumers are going to be frustrated,” Adams said.

Sheridan called the situation for those in the restaurant and hospitality industry “a real catch-22”.

“They are not bringing in enough money due to their partial opening, and since they are not able to bring in enough money, they are not able to hire enough employees by increasing wages and salaries to really attract them. Sheridan said.

Arielle Pepas gives Lynne Melone from Warwick, RI a manicure at the Spa at the Norwich Inn on Monday. [John Shishmanian/ NorwichBulletin.com]

Lisa Ancona, spa manager for the Norwich Inn spa, said that while places may not be able to offer more compensation, companies, like the Spa, may be able to offer opportunities. growth.

“If you started out in a support position and did really well, because we’re limited in terms of staff, there are places you can move to, where before COVID these were somewhere. little limited, ”said Ancona.

However, if people don’t come back, Djombali said companies will have to pay higher wages.

“If nobody wants to work, how are we going to make things happen?” Djombali said.

Zibbideo is still optimistic. She has received many applications for a restaurant host position that she will be interviewing soon.

“Now it feels like people are starting to worry that everyone is looking for work at the same time, and maybe there is a little more interest than a month ago, let’s say a month ago, ”Zibbideo said.


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About Ray Coulombe

Ray Coulombe

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