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How ordering kiosks tackle restaurant staffing challenges

From processing orders to liberating the workforce from a huge part of their daily duties – ordering kiosks come with multiple ways to tackle the challenge of understaffing in the restaurant.

The first lockdown has been a harsh experience for restaurants all around the world, virtually disabling the majority of business operations in the hospitality sector. People halted their travels, making hotels obsolete and restaurants empty. The latter was also hit by the regulations aimed to prevent the virus from spreading by limiting the number of spaces people interact with each other. 

This resulted in a huge wave of layoffs in the hospitality business. With the challenging human resources landscape in the business even before the pandemic, after the mass layoffs, the situation got even worse. 

The restaurant market after Covid

The restaurant market has started the recovery process after the 2020 and 2021 lockdowns. According to the data the industry is estimated to reach $898 billion in sales in 2022. The growth will be powered not only by the return of the customers but also by hiring people, who will serve and prepare the meals. 

To follow the growth, the workforce is projected to grow by 400 000 jobs by the end of 2022, reaching the level of 14.9 million people working for restaurants or similar institutions. These estimations show, that the restaurants, cafes, and companies in the hospitality sector will harshly compete for the employees. And these are not that willing to get back to work in the sector or start working in it at all. 

Facts about the restaurant labor shortage

The hospitality sector still struggles to rebuild the workforce from before the pandemic. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment in leisure and hospitality has dropped by 10.3% since February 2020. Thus, it is safe to say, that one in ten of all employees from the pre-pandemic industry workforce is not working back in the business. Waiters, cashiers, cookers, and other people have found other ways to earn for living. 

This is caused not only by the fact that companies need to recover from the lockdown-induced harm, but also by the reduced willingness of employees to work for the HoReCa sector. 

The reduced willingness to work

According to Business Insider, roughly half of restaurant owners and operators expect recruiting and retaining employees to be the greatest challenge in the year 2022. Attracting the employees to the industry known for hard work and low wages has become a great challenge. Yet there is another reason that discourages the employees from starting their career in this industry. The FoodAndWine reports that up to 38% of former restaurant employees are looking for work in the hospitality sector no more after they were fired due to the lockdown or other Covid-induced reasons.

Business Insider reports an increasing level of abuse from the customers and the managers alike. According to the news portal, up to 62% of employees reported receiving emotional abuse and disrespect from customers. Also, 49% reported the same sort of abuse from their managers. 

The Joblist portal reports that due to the harsh environment, low wages, and hard work combined up to 58% of restaurant and hotel employees plan to quit their jobs by the end of the year. And the change is not about just changing one hotel to another or one restaurant to a better one. 

How the labor shortage affects restaurant

Having a staff shortage has a devastating impact on the company. This can be especially harmful when considering the fast-food restaurants leveraging their attractive placement, for example near the transportation hubs. Regardless of the type of business and the way the company operates, the harms that the understaffing brings include: 

  • Extended waiting time – with fewer employees working, the customers will have to wait longer. Seeing the longer lines, the new customers are more likely to abandon the restaurant and look for their meal in another one. 
  • Poor user experience – long waiting times and tired staff create poor user experiences for the customers, who are expecting their meals fast and delivered by smiling waiters. 
  • The increased rotation of employees – having not enough staff puts higher pressure on the remaining ones, making their work even more waring and exhausting. Thus, the employees are more willing to abandon their job and the owner will need to find new ones regularly. 
  • The increased cost of a particular employee – last but not least, competing for an employee with the rest of the market creates the pressure to increase wages and offer benefits for the employees. For restaurant owners with trimmed margins and increasing maintenance costs, this can be a huge burden to carry. 

The conservative world of HoReCa companies is no exception from the fact that technology is the best response when one faces an unfamiliar challenge. The tech tools delivered automation in multiple market segments and the hospitality sector is one of them. 

When it comes to the HoReCa sector and labor shortages, putting a digital kiosk in the restaurant comes as a perfect response. 

What is a digital kiosk?

The digital kiosk is an electronic device that enables the company to process and manage orders. A modern, sophisticated device can guide the customer through the whole purchase process, starting from the selection and ending with payment. 

The main component of the device is a large touchscreen that enables one to process the orders, display the menu and employ all the selling techniques known from the e-commerce in the offline location. 

More about the devices, their history, and the ways they can be used to boost the restaurant business can be found in our blog post “What is kiosk” Complete HoReCa guide”. 

How kiosks tackle the labor shortage

Considering the device’s ability to support and facilitate the entire ordering process, there are multiple the company benefits from using it. 

Managing the queues 

A kiosk is ready to be used at any time given. The device needs no breaks, no free time, and no lunch. Thus, it can be used to manage queues and support staff during peak times. 

Tireless service 

Once implemented, the kiosk works as long as it has power and an internet connection. It requires no wages and it has no family to feed, so there is no risk it will ask for a pay rise due to the inflation. Also, the device will not change the employer in the search for better conditions. 

End-to-end order processing – reduce the points where employees are required

Kiosks are awesome devices, yet they are not replacing the human staff – only easing and augmenting their work. The kiosk cannot prepare food, cannot clean the restaurant, or deliver the meal, yet it comes with full automation of one of the processes – and does it well, providing the employees with more time to do other things or just rest. 


The kiosk can be a standalone device, yet it is rarely so. For example, Ordering Stack supports kiosks but delivers much more features, including the Kitchen Display System, the online ordering system, and the mobile ordering combined with a POS system that enables the company to streamline all processes in a single environment. 


Digital kiosks are way more scalable than employment – it is easy either to buy a new one or scrap an old one when needed. The device can be removed or added in a matter of hours, without the moral aspect of firing someone or overhiring only to reduce the employment after some time. 


Kiosks are a perfect response to the staffing challenges faced by modern restaurant businesses. The key misconception is about replacing the staff instead of augmenting its work. The team is and will remain the key asset of the company, regardless of the industry and the size. The kiosk is here to make their lives easier. 

If you wish to talk more about the ways the kiosk can support your team and boost your restaurant operations, don’t hesitate to contact us now!