Nationwide staff shortages hit companies in the Lansing area

Joanie Kilchermann said her staff will be pushed to their limits.

“We have extremely few staff and are insanely busy seven days a week,” said Kilchermann, event coordinator at Royal Scot Golf and Bowl, 4722 W. Grand River Ave. in Watertown Township. “Our employees are beaten every day.”

Your lack of staff is not due to a lack of effort. Kilchermann said she tried using social media to attract new employees. Royal Scot also increased the initial hourly wage for waiters from $ 3.67 to $ 10. So far it hasn’t worked.

“We didn’t get any staff,” said Kilchermann. “And if we do that, they won’t last long because it’s so much work.”

Royal Scot manager Chris Bowen said the company’s problems were almost entirely due to a basic need for more employees. Before the pandemic, Royal Scot had twice as many employee work meetings as it does now. In March and April 2020, the company had to cut employees because they were not getting any customers, like many other companies at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. Now that business is picking up again, Bowen and Kilchermann are looking for new employees.

“It’s not that we have tons of customers, but we have enough customers to survive and get through the pandemic,” Bowen said. “We just don’t have enough staff to take care of all of our customers. We have two waitresses and maybe one person at the counter, so this is a huge problem. “

The Bureau of Labor Statistics, dubbed “Great Resignation” by many economists, reported a record 4.4 million Americans, or about 3% of the workforce, in September. The industry with the highest churn rate was leisure and hospitality, with hotels and restaurants facing a churn rate of 6.6%.

Charles Ballard, an economics professor at Michigan State University, said the high churn rate is a sign of a strong economy and means many workers are realizing that companies are hiring.

“It puts pressure on wages and I think a lot of people say, ‘Okay, I might get better wages, better working conditions and something better in another job,'” he said.

Ballard said the pandemic shutdown of many companies has also given workers an opportunity to rethink what to do with their lives.

“COVID has disrupted things in a way that has caused millions of workers to reassess their connection with the workforce once in a lifetime,” he said.

Ballard said he believes burnout and customer treatment play a major role in why many workers choose to leave the hospitality and customer service sectors.

“We have heard stories from passengers who were rude or even disruptive about asking them to comply with federal regulations while flying. Lots of people in customer service. I’ve heard of health care burnout, ”he said. “So some people can change their careers, not necessarily pay better, but simply less stressful.”

Kilchermann said that too few waiters or cooks mean longer waiting times for the food and that some guests take their frustration out on those who are there.

“They are treated so badly by the customers that these poor girls move to tears,” says Kilchermann. “Customers don’t forgive us very much when we suffer from staff shortages.”

The toll is not only paid in tears. Kilchermann said the Royal Scot’s superiors were exhausted and relationships with family members were compromised.

“Me and the kitchen manager work over 70 hours a week,” says Kilchermann. “I have a 2 year old, so it was really tough – and my marriage is suffering because I’m never home.”

Zyara Grill, a Mediterranean restaurant in East Lansing, opened this summer. Cashier David Esa has been in the business since it opened and remembers working 12 to 16 hour shifts every day due to a labor shortage.

“We hope to find a lot of people to work with, but we just couldn’t find it,” said Esa.

Esa said almost every other restaurant in East Lansing faces the same challenges, with workers having the same grueling shift.

Some companies have done better in terms of headcount, but have found that post-pandemic employees have more boundaries and different standards.

Drew Goretzka / Spartan Newsroom

Polly Mackie, a bartender at Sleepwalker Spirits and Ale microbrewery and restaurant in Lansing’s REO Town, said new hires know what they want.

“When you come in, you are ready and you have your limits ready,” said Mackie. “They are determined and do not want to be crucified.”

She said Sleepwalker adjusted to make sure those limits were accepted.

“We’re trying to work really hard on this here,” said Mackie. “To give everyone the time they need and to work as much as they want.”

It’s not just numbers or attitudes that have changed over the past 19 months. Stephanie Folino, owner of Lansing Salon Stephagios, said the newly introduced remote work has reshaped the local beauty industry.

“People who work from home have allowed more flexible appointments,” said Folino.

Stephagios said she hadn’t had a drastic downsizing, but the shortage had had a noticeable impact on customers. Folino said the added stress of working in a understaffed environment has resulted in customers not stopping by as often.

“People who work are affected by the labor shortage because they have to take on a higher workload,” said Folino, “which gives them less time to use beauty services.”

Comments are closed.