As the winter season approaches, business owners are facing the recurring issue of finding suitable staff with secure accommodation. For Bottoms Bar & Grill owner Nathan Cross, the ongoing struggle is impacting the way he’s preparing for the busy season.
“Right now, we haven’t planned our winter menu because we have to see how our staffing is going to look in order to move forward. I’m not going to plan a big elaborate menu if I end up with three cooks,” said Cross.
Looking to double his team for the winter season, Cross said the issue is more finding long-term accommodation rather than people willing to work in the village.
“That seems to be all of our (restaurants’) problems,” he said. “We get a resume, we ask if they have a place to live, they say no, and that’s as far as it goes. We look around for them as best we can, but it’s tough.”
Cross feels there’s not much businesses can do to combat the issue and feels a rise of short-term rentals is a contributing factor, as well as increased permanent residents in the community.
“I feel like if there were an abundance of accommodation out there it would be a little bit easier for all of us.”
On top of the lack of accommodation issue, Cross and the team at Bottoms are finding it increasingly difficult to fill their line cook positions. Advertising available positions Cross said he’s had a great response for every other position but can’t seem to spark interest in the kitchen position.
“If I post for a dishwasher I’ll get some interest for sure with inexperienced Australians that just want to get a pay cheque for the winter, but finding people that have any type of experience and are willing to be a busy line cook is seeming very difficult,” he said.
Explaining the lack of line cooks seems to be a shift in the industry, he holds a rental house for employees willing to work in the kitchen as an incentive to join the team, but with only four beds available it doesn’t go far.
“I do try to reserve it for exactly what I’m lacking, so for experienced line cooks. It’s tough we’re not in a position to offer staff housing. With how the market has gone up here and how much we would need it’s not something we’ve ever been able to offer,” said Cross.
With not much clarity on how to combat the larger issues, Cross is focusing on creating a positive work environment and incentives for long-term staff to have a work-life balance.
“I don’t think there’s much we can do right now but we just have to survive as best we can and see if it rights itself.”