Back in August, a survey of restaurant operators by the National Restaurant Association found that 65 percent of respondents did not have sufficient staff to meet guest demand. That means there are a lot of restaurants having to streamline tasks, adopt new technology to offset labor loss wherever possible, and make tough decisions about where employees are truly needed most in the business. If you’re struggling to do as much as possible with far fewer staff resources than would be ideal, start with that last point. Considering the people you have available to you, what is the most important function for them to serve? Talk to them about how their skills can best support the business in those places. Then get creative – or even ruthless – about making changes in other places. A recent Reuters report indicated that restaurant brands are taking such steps as introducing new equipment that can accelerate or automate aspects of cooking and cleanup, using more speed-scratch ingredients, and changing preparation procedures so that any time spent waiting for food to cook is time spent completing tasks that previously would have been handled separately at the start of a shift. Scrutinize any wasted labor at each step of a shift. When you look at the preparation of each menu item and your needs to keep your operation clean and safe, where is there room to optimize the staff resources you have on hand? Across a shift and across a restaurant chain, all of those labor efficiencies add up. You may be able to operate with less staff than you had previously thought.