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Addressing Food Industry’s Labor Shortage with TikTok, Other Solutions

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The statistics are staggering.

According to a recent poll conducted by job site Monster.com, 95% of respondents were “currently considering changing jobs,” and 92% said they’d switch industries to get a new job. The top motivators for employees thinking about a switch were burnout and lack of opportunities for growth.

Of course, anyone in the restaurant industry is well aware of America’s current labor shortage. The Labor Department recently said that job openings rose at the end of May to a new high of 9.2 million, according to The Wall Street Journal (July 7). With that, keeping employees happy – especially Gen Z and millennial employees – seems harder than ever.

“Young people want to pursue their own passion, be it music, art, cooking, or launching a startup,” said Daniel Hooker, a senior lecturer at Cornell University’s SC Johnson College of Business, in an email to The Food Institute. “And content creators can now monetize their passion via technology [like] Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok, making them less dependent on the traditional employment path and security.”

The Wall Street Journal also noted that pandemic layoffs pushed many employees in hospitality to find jobs in new growth areas that offer better pay and perks, and that all workers, in general, are less receptive these days to commuting to work than in the past. Ultimately, more than half of all U.S. hospitality workers won’t return to their past jobs, according to a recent Joblist survey, with that same group saying that no pay increase or incentive would make them return to their old post at a restaurant, bar, or hotel.

While these figures are eye-opening, there are still ways to attract workers.


Offer upskilling opportunities: Today’s young employees value career development. By offering entry-level employees a vision of a possible career path, plus mentorship from veteran employees, food companies stand an improved chance of retaining younger workers, as noted in a recent QSR Magazine guest column (July 1).

Consider a service like Instawork: Instawork recently raised $60 million in a Series C funding round to support its platform connecting businesses with hourly workers, as noted by The Spoon (July 8). Instawork’s platform supports a number of industries, including food and beverage and hospitality, where qualified workers like servers can post their services. Instawork checks employees’ references and eventually connects them with open shifts available at various companies. After a shift, workers get paid within hours.

The company claims it has more than one million workers across the U.S. on its network.

Utilize TikTok Resumes: Yes, evolving social media platforms come and go these days, but TikTok – which reached more than two billion mobile downloads worldwide in 2020 – appears here to stay.

And young job applicants are now using TikTok Resumes, which launched earlier this month, to post video resumes about themselves. Employers including Chipotle and Target are already utilizing the new platform to connect with potential workers.