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Employees in Council Bluffs working 50-70 hours due to labor shortage

Businesses offering more money, changing how they recruit
Posted at 6:18 PM, Aug 19, 2021

COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa. (KMTV) — Restaurants in Council Bluffs need new employees.

"It's been really hard on them, I mean, they were hit hard, one of the hardest by the pandemic. Now they come back, they are opening, they are seeing positive trajectories with their sales, and things along those lines...and now they are having the hardest time hiring folks," Council Bluffs Area Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Drew Kamp said.

Kamp says businesses are taking new measures to get recruits on board.

"They've had to increase wages, they've had to change how they're marketing for jobs, do a lot of different things to impact their workforce issues they've had," Kamp said.

At Boxer Barbeque in Council Bluffs, Executive Chef Michael Nolan said the restaurant is facing unprecedented issues with hiring.

"We will place ads out for help wanted. In a month's time, we might receive three, four applications at the most...and out of those applications, maybe one or two are qualified and out of those, one or two, maybe one will show up for an interview," Nolan said.

Nolan has been in the industry for 22 years and calls the hiring process "harder than it's ever been."

"There's a lot of the people are scared of the industry, with COVID shutting a lot of restaurants down. They don't feel, maybe, it's as stable as it should be which is completely untrue," Nolan said. "A lot of restaurants are doing better now than they ever have because of the community support to support local businesses."

Nolan and other employees are working a solid 50-70 hours each week to make up for the labor shortage. As industries look to recruit and retain, Kamp said it's the perfect time for workplaces to also reflect.

"We need to consistently look at how can we improve our culture, how can we improve our existing space for the employees that we have, and make sure we are keeping them happy and lifting them up and doing the best we can for their needs and on their behalf," Nolan said.

Boxer Barbeque is hiring for cooks, servers and hosts.