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The payroll card revolution offers compelling benefits to restaurant employers too.

How Payroll Cards Can Help Recruit Restaurant Workers This Holiday Season

They're a low-cost, easy-to-implement incentive.

If there’s anything that the summer of 2022 showed us, it’s that the restaurant industry has forever changed. Worker shortages have moved front and center, leaving restaurants, hotels, and other hospitality businesses struggling to find the employees they need to operate.

Restaurant businesses that weren’t able to find the workers they needed had to resort to limiting their hours and/or services, literally “leaving money on the table” during their busiest time of the year.

Help your restaurant recruiting efforts thrive in the upcoming holiday season by paying attention to the needs and preferences of both regular and seasonal workers. That means making wage access, and importantly for restaurants—tip access, safe and simple.

In this article, we’ll explore why a payroll card should form an essential part of restaurant businesses’ seasonal hiring strategies and help your restaurant business stand out from the competition.

Understanding the Challenges

First, let’s look at some of the forces in play that are giving restaurant owners sleepless nights right now:

Running a Restaurant is More Expensive

When the pandemic hit and sectors of the economy closed, the restaurant industry took a significant knock. Some 110,000 establishments closed permanently. According to the National Restaurant Association, businesses laid off or furloughed 8 million hospitality workers and forfeited $280 billion in sales in the first 13 months of the pandemic.

As the effects of the pandemic start to recede, there’s a new challenge. The most severe inflation in 40 years and the resultant rise in the cost of goods and services are thwarting this industry’s recovery. Consider these statistics to understand how inflation is increasing the cost of doing business in the restaurant sector:

  • Labor costs are up 15 percent in 2022 compared to the year before.
  • Wholesale food costs are up by 17 percent.
  • Rent is up by 15 percent.
  • The price of cooking fuel has increased.
  • The price of paper goods, such as bags and containers, has quadrupled.
  • The price of gas has forced owners to pay their delivery drivers more.
  • Customers today simply have less money to spend on dining out.

According to a new survey released by the National Restaurant Association, 46 percent of operators feel that business conditions are worse now than they were three months ago.

Skills Shortages and Recruitment Headaches

Right now, many restaurants are actively seeking to fill open positions despite the building headwinds of a slowing economy. While the sector added 74,000 jobs in July, 65 percent of restaurant operators say they don’t have enough staff to meet their customers’ demands, and 84 percent say they will need to hire additional workers during the next six months. To illustrate the scope and scale of the current staffing crisis:

  • 19 percent of full-service operators say their restaurant is currently more than 20 percent below necessary staffing levels.
  • 21 percent of limited-service operators say their restaurant is more than 20 percent below required staffing levels.
  • 81 percent of operators say their restaurant currently has job openings that are difficult to fill.
  • Restaurants across the country are facing a growing labor shortage in the kitchen.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says the need for chefs and head cooks will rise by 25 percent by 2030. An average of about 18,800 openings for chefs and head cooks are projected each year over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who change career paths or leave the labor force for reasons such as retirement.

Clearly, restaurant employers are in a war for talent. So, what strategies can they adopt to ensure they stand out from the competition and don’t lose out on much-needed revenue this upcoming holiday season?

Well, one simple, cost-effective, and easy-to-implement solution is to add payroll cards to your employee benefits package. It’s a great way to keep your restaurant workers happy, make sure they’re paid—and paid on time—and give them direct, easy access to their money.

What Are Payroll Cards and How Do They Work?

A payroll card is an employer-issued debit card to which your payroll system can load workers’ wages. Your employees can access their earned wages via their payroll cards and also use them as regular debit cards. And if they have a bank account, they can transfer their money to their account in a single transaction or on an as-needed basis.

What Are the Benefits of Payroll Cards for Restaurant Employees?

Paper checks can take a few days to clear. Oftentimes, seasonal workers get paid up to a month after they performed their duties. Payroll cards allow employees to access their earned wages immediately. This is a huge drawcard for seasonal workers. With a payroll card that allows for direct deposit, they can get paid instantly after their time and attendance data is loaded.

Ease of use is another benefit of payroll cards to workers. Even if the employee doesn’t have a bank account, they can use their payroll card just like a regular debit card. They can use it in any place that accepts debit card payments, like grocery stores, gas stations, and other retail outlets, and they can even use it to shop online and pay bills.

The payroll card system also contributes to helping workers build financial wellness and responsibility. Some come with complementary financial planning tools that help people establish budgeting and savings habits.

Main Benefits of Payroll Cards for Employers

The payroll card revolution offers compelling benefits to restaurant employers too.

First, you can say goodbye to the time and cost associated with printing and disbursing paper checks to your workers.

Reliability is another reason to go the payroll card route. You can rest easy knowing your people will receive the money due to them when they need and expect it. You can also electronically disburse bonuses, expense reimbursements, and termination pay to your employees’ payroll cards.

Seasonal restaurant workers who rely on tips for most of their income are looking for safe and timely access to their earned money. With a payroll card, you can easily implement electronic tip disbursements. They can receive tip and mileage information and automatically disburses funds to the employee’s card or bank.

Payroll Cards: The Takeaway

Restaurant businesses across the nation are competing for workers from a limited pool. The ones who prioritize employee benefits will be in the best position to thrive over the upcoming holiday season. Adding a payroll card is a low-cost, easy-to-implement incentive to make your business stand out.

If you’re a restaurant employer considering offering your employees and prospects the benefits of a payroll card, you need to be sure you communicate its benefits. Make sure that your people understand the service, and continue to get feedback and measure its impact on their financial wellness.

Sydney Ahmadian is a writer specializing in personal finance and Earned Wage Access (EWA). EWA is access to a portion of your paycheck on-demand and prevents the need for predatory payday loans, bank overdrafts, and late fees that hourly workers would otherwise resort to for short-term liquidity. Payactiv created the first EWA platform in 2014 to bring security, dignity, and savings to millions of hourly workers living paycheck-to-paycheck. Payactiv goes beyond EWA and helps workers set money aside automatically, budget, pay bills on time, and save on everyday essentials.