"The labor pool is still, unfortunately, more of a labor puddle." – Matt Bolus, executive chef of 404 Kitchen in Nashville, TN.
According to the National Restaurant Association, nearly 50% of restaurants operate with 20% less staff. So, if you're in the restaurant business, chances are one of your toughest challenges is recruiting and retaining good employees.
You're not alone. More than half of restaurant professionals rank hiring staff as one of their top challenges. And 35% of restaurateurs say that training staff is one of their top three challenges.
So, why is it so difficult to find excellent staff or any staff at all? The reason is straightforward: The pandemic gutted the restaurant industry.
The National Restaurant Association says the hospitality industry shed 220 million jobs during this global health crisis. Even though most restaurants have reopened in 2021, many restaurants are still having a tough go filling all their staffing requirements.
What To Do?
Fortunately, there are many actions you can take to improve your chances of finding high-quality team members. Consider these seven tips to improve your chances of finding reliable and proficient restaurant employees:
Research Your Competition
The restaurant industry is notorious for low pay and less-than-ideal working conditions. Try to craft a job post that will address as many concerns as possible. Do your research to learn what neighboring restaurants offer their staff regarding benefits and compensation to see whether you can give potential hires a better deal.
Create a Caring Environment
Restaurant work is challenging, and the pandemics' made it even more difficult. So it's essential to cultivate a caring environment in which people respect and support one another. It can take time to create a caring culture. But, if you know and communicate your core values, your efforts will help create a vibrant culture, which is a valuable tool to boost employee retention. Remember to lead by example.
Let Them Eat Cake, or Burgers, or Tacos
Complimentary meals are a terrific incentive for restaurant employees, and they will entice applicants to join your team. To offer a meal to your staff is a simple form of appreciation, and it goes a long way.
Most restaurants offer employees a daily meal, but do your employees get the same quality food you serve your customers? You don’t need to open up your entire menu, but you can provide delicious, exciting menu items. Maybe you can go above and beyond and throw in a bit of dessert as well.
Emphasize Employee Safety
Let's face it. COVID-19 is a dangerous and deadly disease that scares people. And your prospective employees know there are risks involved with restaurant work. Be sure to highlight what actions your establishment takes to protect staff and customers.
Get Involved in Your Community
Community involvement will increase your engagement with potential team members. Carlos Rodriguez, the owner of Gonza Tacos y Tequila, says his staff values opportunities to volunteer as a group for Habitat for Humanity. "We take our staff on monthly journeys to build houses, and we also do events that raise money for Habitat for Humanity," he says.
When you involve your employees in community activity, it helps them bond as a team and makes their job more satisfying. And you might meet fantastic potential employees who are inspired by your community service.
Highlight What Makes You Unique
What sets you apart from every other restaurant on the block? Is it the benefits you offer or your company culture? If so, say so in your job postings.
When finding a new role, most candidates strive for learning and growth, salary and location, in that order. Is your restaurant offering what potential team members want?
Diversify Your Acquisition Channels
Does your restaurant rely on the same sources? If so, diversify. Tap into direct marketing and social media or partner with local organizations and schools. You can also offer an incentive to your existing staff to refer friends and family to your company.
Finding and hiring new restaurant staff can be time-consuming and stressful. But try not to worry. If you follow these simple steps, you can create an environment that attracts top talent and ensures you retain the employees you already have.