Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Ten Minutes on Why Staffing is a Nightmare

I have ten minutes and only ten minutes to write this today. You will see WHY I only have ten minutes after you read it:

Here is a timeline which suggests the challenges of staffing a small business:

February 1: Applicant walks in the door. She is breathing and has a pulse and I am desperate, so I hire her. She has a smattering of restaurant experience and is currently working two very part-time jobs (one involves a thirty-mile round-trip commute for what amounts to about nine or ten hours per week. At least I can offer this girl more hours and a shorter commute.)

March 1: Girl is working out okay. Not exactly a fireball, but she shows up and wears the uniform. Does everything I tell her to do, but doesn’t exhibit any kind of self-directedness. Kind of frustrating.

Mid-March: Chef comes down with pneumonia, and this girl steps into the role of lifesaver. When I need someone who can come in early, stay late and take on additional shifts, she steps right up. I’m starting to change my mind about her. But, oh…wait. She is starting classes soon. Needs Monday and Wednesday afternoons off…

April 1: Girl lets slip that she is getting married at the end of the week. Apparently, her intended is joining the army, and they want to hurry up and tie the know before he leaves. Very WWII…but sweet. Oh, by the way…this girl is 18 years old. Husband is 20.

Mid-April: Girl comes to me and says that over the summer she wants all the hours I can give her. She is totally free and just wants to work, work, work.

Mid-May: Girl comes to me and confesses that she is pregnant, “But it won’t affect her work at all.” I nod my head and say, “Oh, yeah. Sure”. Regardless of how the pregnancy affects her, I now know that she will be leaving our employ before the end of the year. Not going to be the person upon whom to start building a new stable of long-term employees, I guess…

End of May: Girl complains to other staff members that she is getting tired of the restaurant always being under-staffed. Why does she have to work so many hours (she is working five 6-hour shifts a week)? We have all these people coming in and leaving off resumes (unqualified high school students who are looking for a way to make money for about six weeks and then will go back to their studies and extra-curricular activities in September, never to be heard from again….) She would be happy working four days a week… Because now that husband is safely in the military, and they are safely married, the Army is paying her rent and a food stipend. So she really doesn’t have to work anymore.

Oh, and by the way… Young husband is now pressuring her to join him in Georgia when he is finished with his first phase of basic training. This will take place sometime around mid-August. Mind you, SHE hasn’t broken any of this news to me, but in a workplace as small as ours, you tell one person something and everyone (except ME, generally, but this time is the exception) finds out eventually.

So this is the way of things. Since January, I have lost three long-term employees and my chef. I have had one new hire work one shift and never come back. Last week, my new hire ("Wisconsin Woman") worked five days and quit. My husband interviewed a girl on Friday (referred by going-to-Georgia-girl) who started out saying she could only work four days a week, but oh, sometimes not even that, and, oh, by the way, I’ll need a week off in June, and a week off in July. In other words, “I don’t really WANT a job. I don’t actually have time for one…” This is WHY we have all these resumes coming in and we are chronically short-staffed. I have no idea how these people live, anymore, without an income. Maybe the army is paying all their rent.

I am frustrated, tired (that’s news?) and desperately afraid that, in a few weeks, I’ll be running that restaurant all by myself.

And in Washington, they’re STILL screaming, “There are no jobs… “

No comments: