Canada’s Restaurant Labor by the Numbers
by David Klemt
While there are positive signs for Canada’s foodservice industry, recruiting and retaining labor continues to be a challenge.
Unfortunately, this isn’t a challenge unique to Canada. Operators throughout North America and indeed across the globe are facing labor shortages.
However, restaurants, bars, and nightclubs may have to achieve traffic and revenue growth despite a significant labor deficit.
Please click here to access the 2022 Foodservice Facts report yourself.
Labor Shortage by Category
In their latest report, Restaurants Canada crunches the numbers for three distinct venue categories. These are quick-serve restaurants, full-service restaurants, and bars and nightclubs.
The organization finds that QSRs and FSRs are facing the greatest shortages. In fact, in response to a survey from May of this year, at least half of QSRs and FSRs aren’t operating with fulls staffs.
For QSRs, 52 percent of respondents say they perceive restaurants and bars they’ve visited to be understaffed. A bit over a third (36 percent) think staffing is “about right.” Unhelpfully, 12 percent “don’t know” if restaurants and bars have enough staff.
So, let’s switch gears to FSRs. Precisely half of survey respondends say restaurants and bars don’t have enough staff. Just like their QSR counterparts, 36 percent say that staffing seems to be at the ideal level. Fourteen percent respond that they “don’t know,” which doesn’t tell us much.
Per Canadians who responded to Restaurants Canada’s survey, bars and nightclubs are fairing better…at first. Frustratingly, a staggering 37 percent of respondents “don’t know” if bars or nightclubs have appropriate levels of staffing. Thirty-two percent think they’re understaffed, 31 percent think staffing levels are “about right.”
Industry professionals are probably already putting two and two together here. As long as guests receive the level of service they expect, from greeting to speed of service, to closing out their check, they think things are fine. If they’re made to wait longer than they want, they’ll likely say a restaurant, bar or nightclub doesn’t have enough people on shift.
Labor Shortage by Role
Okay, so the May 2022 Restaurants Canada wasn’t entirely helpful. It still provides interesting insight. That is, we know how guests perceive staffing in at least most instances.
So, let’s get down to hard numbers: shortages in specific roles throughout the industry.
Here, Restaurants Canada provides compelling information, even if it’s not what we want to see. In comparison to 2019, every role is down by thousands of people. In some cases, tens of thousands.
Below you’ll find the deficits by role:
- Foodservice supervisors: -3,100
- Chefs: -10,900
- Bartenders: -17,600
- Maîtres d’hôtel and hosts/hostesses: -21,100
- Restaurant and foodservice managers: -22,400
- Food counter attendants, kitchen helpers, and related support occupations: -43,200
- Cooks: -44,400
- F&B servers: -89,500
- Other: -18,800
Add that up and that’s a shortage of 271,000 people throughout Canada’s foodservice industry. For further context, the industry boasted 1,265,700 workers. In 2021, the industry was down to 994,700.
Unfortunately, from 2020 to 2021, just 4,100 jobs were recovered, according to Restaurants Canada. This situation clearly shows that operators need to change their approach to staffing.
Now, more than ever, operators must focus on effective recruitment, onboarding, and retention. For tips on making improvements, click here. To learn how to implement employee surveys to boost retention and avoid costly turnover, click here.