The restaurant business can be incredibly rewarding. Local eateries create community connections and introduce folks to new experiences through food. But the long hours and stresses of working in a restaurant often result in high turnover.
The pandemic has only heightened this difficult staffing environment. We believe that local restaurants still have plenty to offer employees, and we’ve used our industry knowledge to do some recon. Putting an emphasis on these five areas can help you get results in the staffing department.
- Tell Your Story: Today’s workforce wants something to believe in. Prospective employees are far more interested in an organization that shares their values while remaining community-minded. And local restaurants have great stories to tell about their mission. Perhaps it’s keeping family recipes alive, promoting sustainability, or supporting local causes. Whatever inspired you to open a restaurant – tell your story. Describe your culture and your goals in a fun, inviting way. Laying out your history can help safeguard your future by connecting with team members willing to buy in.
- Dig Into Digital: Everything has a remote component these days, including the hiring process. But it’s important to dig deeper than your competitors. Start with inspiring job descriptions on your website and make sure to canvas online recruiting sites and job boards, particularly ones specializing in culinary hires. If a site specifically targets FOH or BOH positions, even better. Post job openings on the popular social media channels, from Facebook to TikTok and Snapchat. If you want to reach strong candidates, you have to know where they are online. And remember that video interactions are here to stay. Be flexible to conduct interviews on Zoom or other digital meeting platforms.
- Ramp Up Referrals: Chances are you already have some great team members on staff. Leverage their networking skills to identify friends, family, and previous co-workers that might be a good fit. Industry workers tend to have a lot of contacts and their understanding of your culture can help create natural matches. Remember to set up a referral program that rewards your current staff. Offering a bonus or other incentives such as gift cards, swag, and paid time off can speed up the referral process.
- Boost Benefits: In many ways, the pandemic has actually increased the staffing competition between the restaurant industry and other sectors. Wage concerns, lifestyle changes, and higher unemployment benefits mean that restaurants must step up their game to find quality talent. Offering increased healthcare and childcare benefits will make you more attractive as an employer. Be prepared to increase pay or offer signing bonuses for critical positions. Providing perks like community college reimbursement, gym memberships, and dining allowances will help you fill roles faster.
- Standard of Living: The money is a huge part of the puzzle, but it’s not the only factor driving folks out of the industry. Post-pandemic, workers are seeking lower-stress environments. Flexible scheduling, wellness programs, a healthy culture – these can bring service employees back into the fold. At the end of the day, restaurant workers need time to decompress from the stressful hustle and bustle. Providing reasonable vacation and sick leave, as well as childcare options, will bring in better candidates and reduce turnover after hiring.