Hiring restaurant staff has been one of the hardest challenges for chefs and managers during 2021. What are the solutions to overcome this? Our team at Choco has put together a list of resources to help you navigate the hiring drought, including online hiring platforms to post about vacancies of restaurant jobs and strategies to find new applicants.
In our last article, we learned about the causes and impact of the 2021 labor shortage which has affected hospitality businesses all over the US. With restaurant workers collecting unemployment benefits or exiting the industry, restaurateurs are struggling with finding talented employees and keeping their staff. How can businesses respond and meet the needs of the labor market?
Before diving into the mission of recruiting new hires, it is important that you are also focusing on staff retention. Despite the tough situation, you should make sure you are putting enough effort into promoting a healthy work culture and environment that incentivizes your current employees to keep their jobs. Here is what you can do.
Fast customer experience
Fewer food servers and back-of-house workers can translate into longer waits for your customers, as well as higher stress for your team. This might play a role in your guest experience (and ultimately, your revenues), and it is, therefore, crucial that your restaurant disposes of enough employees to provide fast customer service and meet customers' demand. For example, restaurateurs all over the US have therefore started offering limited seating capacity to mitigate these risks.
Healthy work-life balance
During a time when your staff members might be taking on longer shifts, taking care of people’s physical and mental health are of the utmost priority. While our guide to establishing a shift plan can help you manage your staff effectively and avoid planning double shifts, you should also investigate your employees' internal satisfaction. Conducting exit interviews and internal talks can help you understand your strengths and weaknesses to then build an action plan to improve your work culture while hiring new restaurant staff.
How to find new restaurant staff
From posting job offers online to recruiting new staff through referral programs, here are some action points and resources to help you find new hires for your restaurants.
Online hiring platforms
When posting about your restaurant jobs online, make sure that you have searched for the right platform and that you are using different options to maximize your chances of finding new hires for your business. The most popular websites like Indeed or Google for Jobs allow you to post your job offer for free.
Other popular options include social media. For example, Facebook offers several solutions to create a job offering post, from posting on local hospitality groups and Marketplace to running targeted ads or via Job Bookmarks.
You also should consider putting some budget on posting on or subscribing to an online hiring platform for restaurants like Pared, Seasoned, Harri, and Culinary Agents. Make sure that you have researched which ones are the most popular in your local area. Job search tools for restaurants like Seasoned can be a great solution to find applicants locally - the platform connects the restaurant community in Austin to allow employers to find qualified personnel.
Organizing a networking event can help you connect with potential front-of-house and back-of-house employees in your area. In the past weeks, hospitality companies and restaurants in the US have hosted job fairs and events to recruit new talents, and came up with solutions for managers to run interviews during Covid times - the example of Taco Bell holding interviews in parking lots, patios, and drive-up stations where restaurants jobs hunters were not required to leave their cars can be a useful inspiration when organizing a networking event.
Make sure you are connecting with different types of businesses and institutions, including restaurant staffing agencies or hospitality management and culinary art schools to recruit early-career professionals and students.
Creating an employee referral program for your team or even customers can help you find new hires and increase staff retention - people coming in through a referral program are more likely to accept offers, integrate more easily, and have a better set of expectations around the position and company culture. Rewards can include a one-time signing bonus, higher salaries, or free meals for people who successfully recruit in their network.
Rethinking your business
Along with quick-win solutions for restaurants like hosting a networking event and connecting with restaurant staffing agencies or hiring platforms for restaurant jobs, the ongoing conversation on the future of the restaurant industry also involves a discussion on rethinking the restaurant business model to ensure fair wages and pay equity.
Tip free model
More and more restaurants all over the country are adopting a tip-free model (also known as “gratuity free” or “hospitality-included”). This system entails that servers do not accept tips and are instead paid an hourly living wage above the state minimums and also receive employee benefits.
Restaurateurs in the US have also pointed out the negative social aspects of tipping: according to Amanda Cohen’s interview with Eater (Campo Bowen, 2020), tipping is often hitting POC in their pocketbook and exposes women workers to sexual harassment servers.
Employee profit sharing
Another model that creates benefits for your staff is profit-sharing. This incentive-based system allows your employees (or part of them, such as those having a managing role) to receive extra revenues according to the restaurant’s profitability - hence, this model can help you strengthen your mission and make your team more unified.