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Restaurants struggle to retain employees under changing risk levels

"Employers aren't losing their employees... employees are quitting/getting fired cause they make basically the same amount or more while on unemployment," Casey Lee Aden said.

Posted: May 9, 2021 6:04 PM
Updated: May 9, 2021 11:46 PM

LANE COUNTY, Ore. -- Restaurants are seeing a dip in employment rates as the state fluctuates between risk levels. 

While some places are making adjustments to cater to new hires, or recapture previous ones, Emily Chappell, the co-owner of Old Nick's Pub in Eugene, said her formula for retaining her employees is simple.

"I try to take care of them I try to create a respectful workplace. The way that I speak to them is a very respectful way," Chappell said. "I value them. I wanted to look at their wage scale and make sure that the wage scale reflected that." 

Toward the beginning of the pandemic, Chappell laid off nearly all of her staff, but was able to bring most of them back once the restrictions loosened.

"We didn't have anyone that said I'm not coming back," Chappell said. 

That is not the case for everyone in the state though.

KEZI 9 News asked Facebook users if any business owners were struggling to retain employees. The post received over 200 comments.

Users expressed mixed feelings. Some said government benefits are incentivizing workers to stay home.

"Employers aren't losing their employees... employees are quitting/getting fired cause they make basically the same amount or more while on unemployment," Casey Lee Aden said.

User Jolene Diane added.

"Who wants to work when they get paid more not to?" Diane said. 

However, other users said that most business owners are trying their best to accomodate their employees.

"People sure seem to think that all business owners are money hungry and that we neglect employees. I would love to be able to pay my employees $20+ an hour with benefits but there is no way to do that. We’d have to raise prices so much to cover the cost that it would drive people away and they’d just shop on Amazon because it’s cheaper. It’s a tough balancing act for sure!" Jennifer Aldermann said. 

Gabby Pelayo is the manager at Chula's Restaurant and Cantina in Eugene.

Pelayo said she's thankful because she hasn't lost any of her employees to this point. However, she said hiring new people has been very difficult but she's not sure why.

"It could be unemployment [benefits] it could be that people are afraid to get out," Pelayo said,"We are in contact with hundreds of people throughout the day." 

Many industries across the country are experiencing slow job growth.

According to a recent jobs report, over one million jobs were expected to be added nationwide during the month of April, but only about 266,000 jobs were added. 

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