As businesses start to rebuild following brutal blows from the COVID-19 pandemic, finding enough employees has become a major problem for some.
Restaurants have increasingly been re-opening since the closures last year, which were initially put in place to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Pedal Haus Brewery, a Valley brewery with locations in Tempe and Chandler, has faced setbacks in hiring enough staff members as business picks back up.
After being forced to let go of many employees because of the closures, the business is now looking to hire again at its branches. Julian Wright, owner and restaurateur, said that it was confusing for the business at first and he thought that they were alone in the economic battle.
Talking with his vendors, he was able to deduce a lot of businesses were facing the same problem in getting the necessary number of employees.
“They all started telling us that, yeah, every single one of their accounts [was] struggling to find people so that’s when we realized that it wasn’t just a Pedal Haus problem, it was probably an industry problem,” Mr. Wright said.
Soon after, he began to see local and national headlines confirming his suspicions that this was an industry-wide issue. While it’s unclear what exactly is causing these shortages, he explained that because the industry was shut down for so long, the labor pool likely found work in other fields of work.
“In my 21 years of owning restaurants, largely on Mill Avenue and in Arizona in general, I’ve never seen it this thin as far as the labor pool goes,” Mr. Wright said.
He noted that they are still short-staffed which has made them reconsider how they may layout the kitchen and what menu they plan to offer.
However, Mr. Wright would like to avoid having to make those changes and has instead turned to different hiring tactics to fully staff the Pedal Haus branches.
“Oftentimes there’s a kind of a contentious work environment culture and we are definitely the opposite,” he said. “We try to create a really friendly, calm, and supportive work environment.”
To entice people on the job market, Pedal Haus is offering new employees a variety of incentives, including a $250 sign-on bonus after 30 days, a six-month bonus, and a one-year bonus as well.
“Initially, the plan of action was just to kind of huddle up and figure out what to do to be more competitive to attract all the people we need, especially with all these new places opening up,” he said.
Mr. Wright commented that with restaurants opening back up, many new restaurants have also opened for business creating a more cutthroat hiring market.
“If that trend continues, which I anticipate it will, I mean I’m contributing myself by opening a bunch of new spots,” he said. “I think it’s going to get a bit tricky.”
He expects that wages will likely continue to increase to keep and attract employees which will, in turn, cause the price of food and drinks to go up as well.
“The only way to squeak out a living is by increasing pricing at this point to keep pace with the cost of labor,” Mr. Wright said.
Later this year, Pedal Haus plans to open two more locations in Phoenix and downtown Mesa, which will require more than 100 employees.