What’s News in Employment and Hiring

What's News in Employment and Hiring - June 2023

Welcome to our monthly roundup of employer-related news and trends. This month: restaurants fare well in the April jobs report; return to the office slows as hybrid work gains; what is “digital debt” and can AI help reduce it?; and Fiesta Restaurant Group redefines GM role to deal with staff shortages and retention.

Restaurants Continued To Make Progress in April Coping with Labor Shortages

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released its April jobs report this past May 5, with some positive news for the restaurant sector. April marked the 28th straight month of employment gains for restaurants: the leisure and hospitality sector added 31,000 jobs, with about 25,000 of them in the foodservices and drinking sector. Overall, the U.S. unemployment rate remained steady, dipping slightly from 3.5% in March to 3.4% in April, with employers adding 253,000 jobs in April, many more than the 185,000 forecasted. For more on the restaurant sector, click here.

Return to the Office Has Slowed as Hybrid Work Plans Grow

The economic fallout from empty office buildings around the country continues to ripple across the U.S. as working from home gains in popularity. Meanwhile, the much-ballyhooed return to the office has largely fizzled in the first half of 2023, clocking in at about 50% of pre-pandemic levels. “The average office usage rate, which crossed 50% of prepandemic levels in late January, has remained around there ever since, according to Kastle Systems,” as reported in a recent Wall Street Journal article. Also cited in the article, about 6 in 10 (58%) companies “allow employees to work a portion of their week from home, according to Scoop Technologies, a software firm that developed an index monitoring workplace strategies of close to 4,500 companies.” Further, according to Scoop, 

“the number of companies that require employees to be in the office full-time has actually declined to 42%, from 49% three months ago,” with employees at companies with hybrid strategies working an average of 2.5 days a week in the office.

What Is a Worker’s “Digital Debt” – and Can AI Help Alleviate It?

“Modern workers are being buried under a mountain of ever-increasing digital communications. Whether it’s in the form of emails, chat platforms, video meetings or other digital notifications—the sheer volume of digital information and communications we’re required to consume and respond to on a daily basis is becoming overwhelming,” reads an article from WorkLife. According to the article, this has placed workers in “digital debt,” where the constant need to respond and communicate both internally and externally “is taking time away from deep thinking, creating and actually working,” according to a new report from Microsoft. “This new generation of AI will remove the drudgery of work and unleash creativity,” said Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft. “There’s an enormous opportunity for AI-powered tools to help alleviate digital debt, build AI aptitude, and empower employees.”

Redefining the GM Role at Fiesta Restaurant Group Boosts Employee Retention

Employers across the country coping with the ongoing labor shortage are trying anything to help them hire, train, and retain employees. Starting in late 2021, about a year and a half into the pandemic, Fiesta Restaurant Group, the parent company of Pollo Tropical, began an initiative to develop a more comprehensive training program, according to an article in Nation’s Restaurant News. According to the article, in Q4 2021, “the company developed a more comprehensive training program, including leadership development and talent management, for what it called a ‘redesigned executive general manager role.’

“Simultaneously,” the article continued, “the company increased its emphasis on development within its operations training and expanded the number of regional directors of operations from four to seven to ‘reduce their span of control and improve the execution of the guest proposition.’” The results have been positive, with same-store sales growth of nearly 10% and positive transaction growth of 1%, according to the article.

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