Mark Keeton, Vice President
If you’re in the restaurant business, chances are one of your toughest challenges is recruiting and retaining good employees.
You’re not alone. According to Toast’s “Restaurant Success in 2019” report, more than half of restaurant professionals rank hiring staff as one of their top challenges. Unfortunately, the pain doesn’t end when you hire an employee. Thirty-five percent of restauranteurs say that training staff is one of their top three challenges.
The Gallagher 2018 Benefits Strategy & Benchmarking Survey also reports that 65% of restaurant, hospitality and entertainment decision makers said hiring new employees is a top operational priority. Almost 75% said getting and retaining talent is a top HR priority.
Why is it so tough to find good employees?
The reasons are pretty straightforward:
- The labor market is tight. The U.S. unemployment rate is at 3.8%, which means that the majority of the population already have jobs.
- Restaurants aren’t the only industry struggling to find workers, and because there are so many opportunities for different fields, people are gravitating toward higher paying or more career-focused industries.
- Many restaurant workers are young. As more young people opt for college, they are less available to work. Although there are seasonal opportunities, those who are on a career track are more likely to pursue a summer job in that field.
- Ghosting is an increasing problem causing consternation for hiring managers. Ghosting is when someone stops responding to calls and messages seemingly inexplicably. According to a Robert Half survey, 28% of people report backing out of a job after accepting it. In those cases, the respondents cited receiving a better offer, getting a counteroffer from their current company and hearing bad things about the company after accepting the job as reasons for declining. When people who interview or accept jobs and don’t show up or decline an offer after initially accepting, it costs the company time and money.
What’s a hiring manager to do? Consider these tips to improve your chances of finding reliable and proficient restaurant employees:
- Identify top candidates and keep current employees with welcome, training and retention kits.
- Use innovative technology to drive successful hiring campaigns and reduce turnover.
- Make sure your pay and benefits (if any) are competitive with other companies that are hiring your target demographics. Because the labor market is so tight, you may have to pay more or offer better benefits to attract the right workers.
- Some restaurants are providing financial education or tuition reimbursement in a move to attract students who are heading for college or who are in college. Among those offering these incentives are KFC, Taco Bell and Chipotle.
- Consider your audience and recruit them where they are. If your primary target is younger people, use social media to connect with them. They probably aren’t looking at job posting boards even if they are online.
- Recast your search. Many seniors are looking for work to supplement their retirement incomes. Many fast food chains including McDonald’s have started looking for workers at senior centers and churches. Proponents say that seniors often have more pleasant demeanors and are more punctual than their teen counterparts.
- Reward outstanding performance with easy-to-manage employee recognition and appreciation programs.
- Create a team environment with branded aprons, shirts, uniforms and other employee apparel.
- Make sure your reviews reflect on your business well. If they don’t, make sure to address concerns in whatever forum they are voiced as quickly as possible. Occasionally, unhappy reviewers will update their posts to reflect more positively on the company. It’s important to remember that potential employees may check out these reviews before committing to work for you, so you want to be sure you’re presenting the very best image possible.
- Some restaurants are hosting hiring parties where they provide food, drink and swag to entice potential job seekers to come and learn about their business.
- Develop a pipeline of potential employees that is constantly being managed and refilled. Employee referrals and social media are good ways to scout potential new talent.
- Once you’ve hired a new employee, start integrating them into the role as soon as possible, and make sure they receive appropriate training and are made to feel part of the team. Branded welcome kits are one way to ensure they feel welcomed. Developing relationships from the initial interview through onboarding is a way to build loyalty to the company.
Although recruiting employees for restaurants can be daunting, there are steps you can take to make the process smoother and more efficient. By considering new groups of candidates and rethinking the way you recruit and train, you’ll develop a pipeline of candidates who are eager to work for you.