Can an app solve the shortage of staff in restaurants?

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Image for article titled Restaurants have a new way to find workers, but it comes with risks

Staff shortages in restaurants show no signs of abating. Restaurants across the country are forced to close or reduce hours because they just can’t keep enough employees to operate. A new app, Qwickpartners with restaurants across the country to fill these staffing gaps to keep restaurants afloat.

What is the Qwick app?

Qwick is an on-demand service that “connects food and beverage professionals to shifts in real time”, essentially acting as a place where restaurants can post open shifts and restaurant workers can pick them up . Postings can be for anything from an event chef or line cook to a bartender or server and can be posted within a day or even weeks of when it needs to be filled.

Currently, the app is only available in limited cities—11 major cities are currently using the app and 12 more will launch it soon. Users wishing to take shifts must complete a profile and prove they have experience in certain roles, complete an orientation and provide certificates if required. Gradually, you receive a QwickScore, basically a star rating for workers. Users with higher stars will be sent more shifts as soon as they are listed.

Benefits of Qwick for restaurants and workers

If the application is successful and shifts are frequently supported, this model can save restaurants a lot of headaches during an ongoing staff shortage without putting stress on employees who may feel pressured to even come in if they feel sick. It also gives restaurants a larger pool of talent to draw from – not all talented workers want to work full-time, but sometimes these are the only positions available. In theory, this also minimizes the time spent on training employees.

For workers, it offers the possibility of flexibility that is not always possible in the restaurant industry. Especially for those who may have other gigs or who have since left the restaurant industry for another career but still want to make some extra cash, it’s easy to see the appeal. And the payment system also favors those looking to make a quick buck: OOnce you set up your account, payment for any shift is sent the next day.

There is also the possibility of exploring other work environments. Maybe a restaurant has a free slot and you want to try it out first to see if it’s right for you. Maybe you just want to build a community with other people in the industry that you might not otherwise have the chance to work with. Maybe you can’t be tied down to one place and want to dive in and out of them all. With this application, it is theoretically possible.

Disadvantages of Qwick for restaurants and workers

If this application becomes more widely adopted, it could threaten the concept of a permanent restaurant staff. Since Qwick authorizes a restaurant at secure workers without need to cover the potential benefits or other costs and incentives associated with maintaining full-time staff, this may seem like an attractive option for restaurateurs For all the wrong reasons.

When workers enter and leave the same kitchen daily, what is lost is any institutional knowledge within the restaurant, which can create a disconnect between the establishment and its customers. The concept of being a regular goes by the window if there is no one in the restaurant often enough to recognize how often certain customers enter. And there is also the repetitive work that goes into retraining new staff every day.

For workers, no shift is guaranteed. If restaurant work is your main source of income, this system may not be reliable. Whereas Qwick is fast payments are a plus, you are technically registered as a freelancer, complete 1099 forms for tax purposes. This means extra work to track taxes that are due later—take it from a former freelancer who has continued to pay taxes since 2014.

And the star rating system in the Qwick app can be easily distorted. Everything from personal differences to user error can result in a worker getting an extremely low score that could ruin their ability to take on any shift.

I applaud all efforts to change the way we think about working in restaurants, and I certainly want small businesses to fight staff shortages in any way they can. But app-based on-demand staffing, while new in some ways, can’t be the only permanent solution. If anything, the very invention of Qwick proves we need to work harder to make restoration work more sustainable for more people.

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