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Restaurant industry, employees navigate varied interests during challenging labor market

New record of resignations in US, labor department says
Restaurant industry, employees navigate varied interests during challenging labor market
Posted at 9:46 PM, Nov 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-13 00:43:12-05

DENVER — Americans are quitting their jobs at a record rate, with 4.4 million Americans resigning in September, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics on Friday.

The tough labor market has left employers seeking new recruitment strategies as employees becoming more selective about opportunities.

Bryan Lau, a Colorado Springs resident, left his serving job at Texas Roadhouse during the pandemic.

"I had to make a change," Lau said. "When it came to serving, there was either, you can get tips or you don't. It's very inconsistent."

After resigning, Lau went to trade school to work as a plumber.

"You have steadier hours, you don't have to worry about coming in whenever they schedule you. You come in at 7 a.m., you get your job done and you go home at 4 p.m.," he said.

In August, Colorado ranked ninth in the country with a "quit rate" of 3.4% — a rate that doesn't include retirees. To compare, an average of 2.5-2.8% of workers quit their job nationwide in 2019.

"I would say the retention isn't as much of the problem as the hiring process has become the issue," said Mac McNally, general manger of Panzano.

Panzano, a downtown Denver restaurant, offers robust job benefits to include 401(k) plans, health benefits, pet insurance and tuition reimbursements.

"[Recently] we have started with a signing bonus just due to the financial demands of everything lately and what people are trying to recover from," McNally said.

He added that most of the restaurant's benefits are available shortly after a person is hired.

"We're very career driven," he said. "There's an opportunity here."

McNally acknowledged reasons for departures in the leisure and hospitality industries, but he encouraged those who need jobs to seek out a positive workplace culture.

"Well, from a front of house standpoint, a lot of these positions are tipped wages — it can seem like a very unstable environment. It's not a salaried position. It's not based off, necessarily, getting 40 hours a work week," he said. "I've been here for five years, and I love my job. I can speak very passionately about what we do here. I can introduce them to multiple staff members that aren't putting up a front when we do this."