The latest People Report Workforce Index, a barometer of market pressures on restaurant employment, dipped in its fourth-quarter report and continued to indicate restaurant operators are seeing challenges for recruitment and retention.
Looking at third-quarter staffing levels and expectations for the rest of the year, surveyed operators showed turnover was relatively flat, but that expectations for job vacancies and recruiting difficulty increased.
The overall People Report Workforce Index reading for what restaurants expect in the fourth quarter, based on surveys of restaurant human resources departments and recruiters, stood at 59.8. The Workforce Index measures from a baseline value of 50, with results over that level indicating increased pressures on the five components: employment levels, recruiting difficulty, vacancies, employment expectations and turnover.
That overall reading was an eight-point decrease from the third quarter and a five-point decrease from the overall index reading a year ago, meaning less pressures were felt and are expected to be felt.
“The overall index is pretty much exactly where we were at the beginning of the year,” said Joni Doolin, founder of the Dallas-based People Report. “But the employment expectations are still strong.”
But employment expectations in the fine-dining and high-volume participants in the survey showed exceptional strength, rising to 70.5. Other segment results — quick-service, casual-dining and fast-casual — each showed high employment expectations as well, typically totaling the highest of the five index components.
“Even though we are seeing economic turmoil and some bad news, I think there is optimism despite that,” Michael Harms, senior business analyst with the People Report, said. “And that’s what’s showing up in the expectations component.”