Recently my wife took our granddaughter to one of our favorite establishments for an after dinner “treat.” It was not open, and a sign said it was not open due to staffing problems. July and August are key months for our tourist business. Staffing issues have been with us for a long time but are exacerbated now due to several factors. Among them are COVID, housing costs, transportation issues, long hours, inflation, compensation issues, and others.
How do we cope with staffing issues? The successful local businesses apparently do not have the severity others may have. Why?
I would submit several practices are put in place to ensure a consistent loyal workforce.
- They treat their workforce as an asset, not a liability. Several years ago, a Japanese friend shared this philosophy with me. He stated his employees are treated as being as important as his customers. Interesting philosophy.
- Establish pay to be in part incentive-based as well as fixed hourly and/or salary. Let employees know your business plans and let them be part of the bottom line.
- If needed, assist seasonal employees with housing. A small brewery and restaurant recently announced they had purchased a building to be converted to dormitory like housing for their seasonal employees. This is also practiced on Mackinac Island.
- Investigate transportation assistance if needed. This can include seeking drivers that can share rides.
SCORE counselors are available to discuss with you staffing issues. Feel free to reach out to discuss challenges you may have. Call the Petoskey Chamber of Commerce at (231)347-4150 to schedule a meeting. It is free and confidential.