Dickey's BBQ gets creative to solve worker shortage issue

CEO Laura Rea Dickey says her labor force is down about 12%

Dickey's Barbecue Restaurants CEO Laura Rea Dickey explained the creative approach her company is taking to solve the labor shortage problem impacting her establishments across the country. 

On "Varney & Co." Monday, Dickey noted that she has shared employees with neighboring businesses in an effort to alleviate the hardships presented by the worker shortages. 

"We have gotten together in usually business districts where you have common attraction, common traffic…and we’ve actually started to pool with our neighbors, our fellow restaurants, any sort of retail to do job-sharing for folks that may want, not quite full-time work, but could work two part-time schedules," Dickey told host Stuart Varney.

She noted that one of the greatest current challenges is child care and offering very flexible schedules for employees seems to be a solution. 

Dickey stressed that businesses working together to try and fill the gap seems to be helping to navigate the challenges presented. 

She noted that her labor force across her more than 550 restaurants is down about 12% due to open positions, including in management, in the corporate office, and part-time positions. 

"We have labor shortages across the board," Dickey said Monday. "More than we’ve ever seen."

She said that she usually employs more than 5,000 if her restaurants are fully staffed. 

Earlier this month it was revealed that the latest JOLTS report on job openings sat at 10.6 million by the end of November after hitting a record 11.03 million the month before. The data comes before the highly contagious omicron variant of the coronavirus began disrupting the economy.

It was also revealed earlier this month that a record number of Americans quit their jobs in November 2021, underscoring how persistent turmoil in the labor market has made it difficult for employers to fill open positions.


The Labor Department said Tuesday that an unprecedented 4.5 million Americans, or about 3% of the workforce, quit their jobs November, matching the high from September. That's up from 4.2 million in October and tops the previous record of 4.4 million in September. The pre-pandemic level was about 3.6 million.

Resignations in November were concentrated in accommodation and food services, health care and social assistance, and transportation, housing and utilities. A majority of people quit for a new job.

Dickey told host Stuart Varney that she is experiencing labor shortages in all her locations across the country, with the Northeast and the Northwest being the hardest hit right now.

"The worst is probably California," she said. 

Dickey said the company has always paid employees above minimum wage, which up until now has helped ensure that staffing was never an issue. 

She explained that the company has made recent adjustments to their benefits package in an effort to attract and retain workers. 


"That is something that, instead of going state-by-state, we moved into a national pool," she said. "We have added stronger benefits and have added mental health, different health care options that actually go all the way down to the hourly level, instead of just management benefits as previous."


FOX Business’ Megan Henney contributed to this report.