The Covid-19 pandemic saw virtually every industry take a hit but one of the industries that has suffered the most is the food and drink industry. Due to social distancing measures and an emphasis being put on public health and safety, the Canadian government enforced a lockdown that forced restaurants, bars and other food establishments to shut their doors.
This resulted in job losses as businesses had to let go of employees at a devastating rate. In fact, the Canadian government recorded a 55.8% drop in employment in this subsector of the economy. Thankfully with the vaccination process speeding up, the pandemic is slowly fading into the distance and the restaurant industry is slowly starting to open its doors in different parts of the country.
This means that restaurants are now looking to hire employees. The positions to fill are wide: chefs, waiters, general managers, or really any form of restaurant employee. If you’re looking to reduce restaurant turnover and optimize your recruitment strategy, keep reading to discover some essential hiring tips!
Why is restaurant turnover so high?
The restaurant industry’s employee turnover rate is high for a number of reasons. The top three reasons that turnover is so high is due to the profile of people who apply, the hours and pay, and the lack of opportunity for growth.
The restaurant industry is one of the most popular industries for teenagers and those looking for summer jobs. Restaurant jobs offer good initial training and experience for young adults who have never worked before. However, due to other commitments, such as school, they rarely stay in these jobs for long periods of time, which explains why turnover is so high.
Another reason why turnover is so high is due to the hours and pay. Whilst restaurant hours can be tough and extremely demanding, they can equally be scarce and hard to come by. Both of these factors cause job dissatisfaction. Poor pay is another reason why employees might leave their job since they generally have to rely on tips alongside their basic pay.
Finally, the lack of opportunities for career growth means people won’t stick around very long as there is nowhere for them to significantly evolve in the long term. Due to all these reasons, businesses find themselves hiring restaurant staff on a more regular basis than they’d like.
Challenges of hiring restaurant employees
Thanks to the high turnover rates, restaurants find themselves continuously looking to hire restaurant employees. Whilst recruiting is necessary, there are numerous elements that make that hiring process difficult. Below are some of the most common challenges that businesses face when hiring restaurant staff:
Shrinking labor pool
Restaurant staff jobs are attractive prospects for teenagers and young adults due to the fact that they can accommodate it to their schedule and still have time for other commitments, such as school.
However, statistics suggest that this might not be the case in years to come since the number of teens looking to join the workforce is steadily declining. In fact, in the United States, the labor force participation rate is expected to decrease from 63.7 % in 2012 to 61.6% 2022 (source).
Every year, new innovative and alternative industries pop up. These new industries are taking people away from restaurant jobs as they are looking for more exciting opportunities offered by industries such as the tech industry.
The pandemic also affected the rates at which people were looking for jobs in competing industries. The restaurant industry simply was not set up to survive let alone thrive during the pandemic. However, other industries, in which remote working was feasible, had the opportunity to thrive and offered more stability to workers.
Margins are already extremely tight in the restaurant industry so the salary that businesses can afford to pay their employees is minimal. When people find better paid jobs for often less physically demanding labor and more regular hours, they prioritize these opportunities over jobs in the restaurant industry.
What employees do you need for a restaurant?
There are actually quite a few different team members you will need in order to build your restaurant staff. From employees in the kitchen, to front of house, here are the roles you need to fill to optimize your restaurant’s operations:
The manager is at the head of the chain of command in a restaurant, second only to the owner. He is in charge of every aspect of the day-to-day running of the restaurant. From schedules, to maintenance issues, from customer complaints to inventory control, they oversee it all. You therefore need to hire someone who has experience as a manager in the hospitality industry and that you trust. After all, the restaurant manager is your right-hand man.
Of course, you can’t have a restaurant without a talented chef… hiring a chef is an essential thing to get right. The number of chefs you need will depend on the size of your restaurant and the type of chef you hire will depend on the kind of establishment you run.
Waiters and front of house staff
Waiters and front of house staff are the people who are going to have the most interactions with your customers and are going to be the face of your business. You therefore want to employ individuals who are friendly, charismatic and proactive.
Another integral staff member that you will need on board is a dishwasher, or multiple dishwashers. However, in some establishments you might be able to get away with not having one if your restaurant is small enough and you have a functional dishwasher.
Today, almost all restaurants offer a delivery service and this reality took a whole new meaning during the pandemic with restaurants relying solely on online ordering and delivery to make ends meet. In order to remain competitive, restaurants can either hire their own delivery staff or use a delivery platform to get their food to their customers’ doors.
6 expert tips to hire the best restaurant staff
1. Know where to look
Knowing where to look and how to specify your search is essential when looking for new staff members. Although many restaurants rely on recruitment agencies or people bringing in their resumes, this isn’t always the best recruitment strategy.
Instead, think about asking current employees of people that they might know who would be a good fit for the job. You can give your employees incentives when they recommend people in order to motivate them to help you recruit reliable people. Alternatively, social media and LinkedIn are great mediums to optimize your recruitment and hiring process.
2. Offer a training program
Offering training to individuals who are applying to work at your restaurant is recommended. Lack of experience might be something that is putting people off from applying to work at your restaurant, despite having all the qualities you are looking for.
In order to attract a wider applicant pool, you should make it clear that you offer a training program for candidates that make it through all the interview stages. This will increase the number of applications you will receive and help you find the perfect fit.
3. Highlight your company’s corporate culture
It is extremely important to showcase your company and what you have to offer throughout the recruitment process. Restaurants should know how to market themselves to potential candidates and highlight the perks of working in their establishment (company culture, employee benefits, etc.). Nowadays, people are looking to work for businesses that have a corporate culture that aligns with their personal values.
4. Conduct multiple interviews
Interviewing candidates is a given as you need to be able to contrast what they are like in person as opposed to what you see on paper. However, many restaurants rush the interview process to fill roles quickly, which can be extremely detrimental in the long run.
Even if you are under time constraints, it is important to run multiple interviews and give people a few different occasions to showcase what they have to offer. It is also a good idea to have different members of your team conduct interviews so that each sector can assess how they think the potential new staff member will fit in with the team.
5. Give candidates a probation period
Having a probation period is a guaranteed way to ensure that you hired the right person. If you think you found the perfect candidate, hire them and give them a probationary period to determine whether or not they are the right fit.
This probationary period gives you a chance to see how they work in practice and how well they blend with your team. If all seems well after this period, welcome them as a permanent member of your restaurant staff and if it doesn’t work out, simply tell them why and start looking again.
6. Leverage technology
Nowadays, businesses in the food and beverage industry rely heavily on technology to reduce their costs and optimize their operations. With the advent of the pandemic, the rate at which restaurants are digitizing their business has grown exponentially. Casual dining chains rely on online ordering and self-serve kiosks to reduce labor costs and make the life of servers and cashiers easier.
Technology allows restaurants to compensate for staff shortage which is likely to become a problem in the future. When customers order from a screen, businesses can personalize their experience, streamline the ordering process and achieve upsell opportunities thanks to artificial intelligence.