Hiring has consistently been a challenge in the hospitality industry. And it’s getting worse due to a shrinking labour pool and potential restrictive legislation changes. However, technology can open a new door for the industry; in particular, if we wrap our heads around how we can share quality, skilled staff. And that is exactly what Hyr – the app that works for you – offers.

Staffing is a problem.

That’s what I hear consistently when I talk to restaurant and bar owners. Finding the right people, dealing with constant turnover, seasonal staffing, and last minute call offs takes too much precious time and energy.

Mid adult woman (30s) working in restaurant, taking an order from an African American customer.

According to Restaurants Canada, nearly one-third of operators are having difficulty finding skilled labour. And one in four operators have problems filling jobs with no skill requirements.

How does this happen in a country with nearly a seven per cent unemployment rate?

On the surface, it’s easy to point at what most operators already know: high turnover due to fluctuating working conditions, the frequent openings and closings in the restaurant and bar business, and wages which simply aren’t competing in today’s labour market.

And it’s only going to get worse if something doesn’t change. Four out of every ten restaurant jobs are filled by people under the age of 24. But young adults are waiting longer and longer to enter the labour market. And according to Statistics Canada data, this demographic – our main labour pool – is shrinking rapidly.

Young people aged 15-24
In 1971: 19 per cent
In 2011: 13 per cent
By 2031: 11 per cent

Source: Statistics Canada

The industry also faces very unique recruitment challenges. It takes us significant time to find talent. It takes multiple job postings, interviews, and recent challenges of workers just not showing up for interview times. And when we do find talent, they all too often leave in short order. Recruitment and retention of employees will re-emerge as a top challenge for restaurant operators, as a labor market changes will lead to greater competition for employees.

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We are also facing challenging legislative realities – such as the possibility of governments imposing restrictive policy changes – such as paid sick time, increased labor costs and calls for a $15.00 minimum wage, and predictive scheduling. To give you a sense of what this can mean for us in Canada – according to the New York City Restaurant Alliance, operators have faced an almost 30% increase in call-offs due to legislation requiring paid sick time. More, predictive scheduling laws (which have already passed in some California states) seek to restrict scheduling practices, requiring employers to give workers two weeks’ notice of work schedules, and pay employees for schedule changes or cancelled shifts.

These are the challenges. But recent innovations may hold the solution.

It wasn’t until a few years ago that people started to think about how they can make money off an asset they owned. Tech companies like Uber, Lyft, and Airbnb have opened up a whole new sharing and flexible labour economy.

At Hyr, we believe the hospitality industry needs the same kind of innovation.

Companies like Uber inspired the idea for Hyr. With Hyr, businesses can share skilled workers and workers can find a side-hustle. The labour market becomes more accessible and more efficient. But more, by using Hyr, companies can access a whole new talent pool.

As a former restaurant worker, I saw how trained staff could float in and out of the industry seamlessly. A decade ago, I was a server and bartender with almost ten years of experience when I landed my first political job. I was carrying a lot of debt, and my new political job barely paid me enough to live on. I couldn’t keep serving and making money on the side because I couldn’t commit to three to four shifts a week. But if there was a way that I could pick up three to four shifts a month, I would have leaped at the opportunity – and gotten out of debt sooner.

There are skilled people out there right now who are looking for a side-hustle just like I was. They can help us deal with our shrinking labour pool.   And with new technology, like Hyr, we can now connect to those workers with a click of a button.

I know that it may be uncomfortable to think about “sharing” staff. But, we need a new innovative solution to combat the realities of the new labour market. The industry needs new technology, like Hyr, to take advantage of the flexible labor economy.

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Simply put, Hyr is looking to change how businesses in the hospitality industry think about their hiring. And with that, we are looking to open a business to a new labour pool of trained, quality, talent who are not currently being accessed.

We need a new way, and we believe with Hyr we can start to scratch the surface of a solution. It’s time to start the conversation on a new way of working. #workit

Erika Mozes is a co-founder of Hyr. She spent over a decade in the hospitality industry, starting in quick service restaurants then as a server and bartender in a number of fast casual establishment. She has also held corporate roles with Coca-Cola and McDonald’s.