As winter approaches, our minds are filled with thoughts of joy and celebration with friends and family. Many of these celebrations will take place inside of the nation’s full service restaurants. Whether large or small, holiday gatherings bring a welcome seasonal business spike to the restaurant industry. With more customers comes greater risk, especially when you factor green seasonal staff and change of weather in the northern states.
To illustrate this seasonal claims increase, Gallagher Bassett reviewed reported losses to our numerous full service restaurant clients and compared the months of October to December of 2018. For customer liability claims we saw a spike of 15% and on the workers’ compensation side there was an increase of 11%. And don’t expect the holiday spike to end at Christmas; it is the “gift that keeps on giving” through the traditional New Year’s celebrations. Gallagher Bassett’s full service restaurant client base experiences the heaviest frequency months in December and January, which combined accounts for 18.5% of yearly claims.
While frequency is certainly driven by increased traffic, it is amplified by onset of hazardous winter weather conditions. A look at one of the most common accident types (slip, trip and fall), we see a frosty 28% spike in these types of claims for the same October v. December comparison.
Hiring Seasonal Help
Reported in federal data released in November 2019, the restaurant industry added 475,000 jobs in the month of October, accounting for roughly 36% of all jobs added in the that month. As we move into the peak season, the number of new restaurant jobs will continue to grow amongst a greatly strained labor supply. Nonetheless, restaurants will turn to seasonal help as one solution to address their labor need. Selecting and hiring the best seasonal workers can be difficult. Among the many things to be considered when hiring are:
- Start the hiring process early to allow for full training prior to the start of the peak
- Get referrals from current employees
- Keep the expectations of the job clear
Safety & Training Matters
In anticipation of the increased guest counts and labor hours, a focus on safety can help manage this increased risk. Careful consideration must be given to onboarding and training to ensure they are an addition to your service team and note merely an increased safety hazard to your regular employee base. According to the National Restaurant Association, “The transient nature of seasonal employment is one reason why providing proper training is integral to maintaining a safe space for customers to dine in.”
GB’s restaurant and foodservice practice recommends the following tips for managing the risk of temporary workers.
- Ensure temporary workers adhere to all restaurant safety standards
- Ensure temporary workers receive the same safety training as do permanent employees
- Partner seasonal workers with a permanent employee mentor
- Keep more hazardous jobs limited to fully trained permanent workers
- Increase frequency of floor sweeps / inspections to account for increased guest counts
- Ensure management reports all claims promptly to the claims administrator
Embrace the holiday rush and the spirited patrons that come with it. Treating your guests to a wonderful and safe restaurant experience during the holidays will keep them coming back all year long. Welcome your newly hired temporary workers and marry them into the safety culture of your restaurants. Ensure that they are attentive to possible risks associated with the increased foot traffic, and are trained to handle any situations that would suck the joy out of the most wonderful time of the year.
Tim Kelly has 30 years of industry experience and leads the Restaurant & Foodservice Practice at GB.