Businesses face yet another hurdle as staffing shortages rise

“It’s an industry-wide problem right now getting people to come back to work or finding qualified applicants in general is extremely difficult -- which is putting a big burden on the existing staff to work more hours and come to fill the void.”

Posted: Jun 7, 2021 1:16 PM
Updated: Jun 7, 2021 6:43 PM

EUGENE, Ore. -- Across the country, local businesses are experiencing another major hurdle in the fight to keep doors open: staffing shortages.

One industry noticing the effects firsthand is the hospitality industry. KEZI spoke to several businesses in the area to find out how they're holding up.

According to the National Restaurant Association, about half of restaurants are operating with 20 percent less staff than before the pandemic.

Domingo Garcia is the general manager at Steelhead Brewery and McKenzie Brewing. His business has reached 30 years of service.

“Staffing is very tough,” Garcia said. “It’s an industry-wide problem right now getting people to come back to work or finding qualified applicants in general is extremely difficult -- which is putting a big burden on the existing staff to work more hours and come to fill the void.”

The brewery is having to adjust their hours to give employees time off. Starting today, Garcia had to make the difficult decision to close his doors on Mondays until further notice.

This is the first time they’ve had to make such a decision, as typically the brewery is open daily. KEZI walked up as Garcia was putting a sign on the door that states the changes.

A few minutes down the road, another restaurant is struggling to hire as well. Amanda Watts is the owner of Mandy’s Family Restaurant in Eugene. Currently, there’s 11 staff members but she needs 25 to be a 24-hour restaurant.

“I haven’t been able to open the inside due to staffing issues,” Watts said. “We’ve been trying to accommodate hard with outdoor picnic tables -- covered and uncovered. We have not been able to keep the staff to open the inside yet.”

Watts said people have made appointments and not shown up and others have said they don't pay enough. She doesn't expect to be able to open the inside until September.

So why are businesses having such a tough time getting help? There’s various opinions.

Some people blame unemployment benefits. Others say many are still afraid of catching COVID-19 and don’t want to work. Also with hybrid learning, many parents are having a difficult time finding child care.

Brittany Quick-Warner is the president and CEO of the Eugene Area Chamber of Commerce.

“There is this desperate need for workers and workforce,” Quick-Warner said. “Our employers are reopening. Our businesses are welcoming more customers and accommodating more people but they're struggling to find employees to work for them.”

She said the Chamber is working with a coalition of statewide business advocacy organizations to incentivize people to get back to work.

Quick-Warner said she’s hopeful that there will be support in the coming weeks to make it easier and attractive for people to return to the workforce.

“I will say that now is the time to come out and get back to work,” Garcia said. “We’re looking forward to having people come back in and say, hey, I’ve wanted to work in the restaurant business -- brewery business specifically for us -- and allow us to be the place where they can start their career or in some cases just switch gears.”

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