Labor Shortage

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It’s a critical time in hospitality because of a worsening industry-wide labor shortage.

In 2016, 20 percent of Washington Hospitality Association restaurant members said finding and keeping employees was their No. 1 business challenge. We surveyed members again in 2018 and saw that number has DOUBLED to 41 percent.

In 2016, 23 percent of Washington Hospitality Association hotel members said finding and keeping employees was their No. 1 business challenge. We surveyed members again in 2018 and 37 percent said finding and keeping employees is their No. 1 business challenge.

To deliver a solution to the industry’s labor shortage, the Washington Hospitality Association Education Foundation, the Employment Security Department and WorkSource have been building partnerships and hosting hiring events throughout the state in May each year.

Why does this matter?
Check out what our members said in the 2018 Membership Survey:
• “Bring things to the table that are going to affect my bottom line.”
• “[I need] qualified employees for our activities: trained, or willing to be trained.”
• “Finding a good cook. We are constantly looking. Finding good employees.”
• “Escalating wages. Increased competition in all our areas of operation, both Seattle and outlying areas.”
• “Would like to be referred to graduate programs for internships and possible employment. I’m especially having difficulty finding qualified kitchen help.”
• “Labor: hiring good responsible people. Also, the cost of doing business is higher and makes it more difficult.”
• “Fix the expensive costs of hiring employees.”
• “Difficult finding staff because of competing with higher wages in Seattle.”

In the past years of Hospitality Month, the Education Foundation has built a fruitful relationship with the Employment Security Department (ESD) because ESD has job seekers and resources to save members time and money.

ESD staff will host targeted job fairs for our members’ businesses – for FREE.
ESD staff will recruit employees for our members – for FREE.
They will improve job postings.
They will arrange space for interviews.
They will conduct candidate assessments.

ESD’s job board on allows any Washington state business unlimited job postings and access to LinkedIn and job candidates – for FREE. Its system will match your job posting with resumes available in the system based on skills and will filter out unqualified applicants.

The most important takeaway for members
Hospitality Month is celebrating careers in hospitality – changing the perception of our industry — and providing cost-saving hiring solutions for members.

Next step
1) Members should make an account and post their open jobs at
Before you log on, you must collect this information about your business:
• Number of employees
• Federal contractor status
• Federal Employer Identification Number (EIN)

Or, members can schedule a time with their business services representative to assist in setting up their account.

Watch the video below to learn how to set up an account or troubleshoot challenges.

2) Members can contact the Education Foundation to participate in a hospitality celebration and hiring event.

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