Restaurateurs and hoteliers who weathered the pandemic are now fighting on a new front – the hospitality staffing shortage has reached a critical point.
Several high-profile restaurant owners have been unable to reopen high-end establishments in Dublin city center due to staff shortages.
The problem is nationwide, and some experts fear it’s growing.
Ray and Margaret O’Connor invested all their life savings into establishing their business, the Old Stone House Restaurant in Ballinlough, Co. Roscommon.
Devastated by the pandemic, they’ve managed to salvage their business and are packed every night they open their doors. But only three days a week.
They don’t have the staff to open on other days.
“We just can’t get enough staff, and unless that changes, the industry will be fighting another battle that we can’t win,” said chef and owner Mr. O’Connor.
“I have two waitresses who come in from Westmeath every weekend to keep the doors open and I have another girl who is even from Navan.
“For me, the problem is that young people no longer want to do the work. You don’t want to work on weekends.
“We have fabulous part-time students but at the moment we can’t open on a Thursday because we don’t have the staff. We are waiting for our part time staff to get their vacations so we can open on a Thursday.
“When I was young we worked as soon as we could walk, but that’s not the case anymore.
“I feel like the pandemic subsidy hasn’t been good for some young people.”
Mr O’Connor said he was counting his blessings after recently hiring a new staff member. He said he would do his best to keep them and attract more staff.
“We recently hired an absolutely fabulous waitress who came to us from Ukraine,” he said.
“We are so grateful to her and feel so lucky to have her.”
Echoing the O’Connors’ difficulties, Dan Murphy, the general manager of Galway Bay Hotels, said hotels are being forced to cancel large functions and events because they cannot staff them.
“There is a very well documented and serious staffing issue in the industry right now,” he said.
“I know hotels that get requests for events big and small and they don’t take them because they don’t have the people to look after them.
“This is a serious problem. There are hotels across the country that don’t even sell all of their rooms.
“We have about 215 employees. It’s a big and busy hotel and we need to keep the staff we have and attract more.”
Mr Murphy was recently recognized as Best Employer in Galway at the Galway Chamber of Commerce Business Awards.
“Some of us could see a churn of employees from the early stages of the pandemic, so I’ve certainly started to really focus on the well-being of our employees,” he said.
He has “taken a very focused approach to our retention strategy and it’s been working exceptionally well for us.”
“The core values of our team are honesty, passion, flexibility, excellence and fun. These have become a way of life at the hotel,” said Mr. Murphy.
“We have a wellness coordinator who oversees staff yoga classes and organizes 20-minute walks at the prom every day.
“Not every employee will participate, but many do and find it very rewarding.
“Our leisure center used to be for guests and members but I have decided to end outside memberships during the pandemic so the leisure center is now for staff and guests only.
“We have a fabulous group of young people at the hotel and we take a lot of their energy. We were recently awarded Best Employer in Galway and have seen a steady stream of CVs ever since.
“Word seems to be getting around that we’re a good place to work. This is vital.”
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/hospitality-crisis-were-open-only-three-days-we-simply-cant-find-the-staff-to-do-more-41648744.html Hospitality crisis: “We’re only open for three days, we just can’t find staff to do more”