Recruitment is one of the more difficult aspects of running a restaurant. Long hours, split shifts and gruelling work all contribute to a high turnover of staff. In fact, the Hospitality industry has the highest turnover rate, a whopping 79% (pre-covid), vs the average of 45.1%.
If you’re just getting started with your first business and don’t know where to look for staff, this article will give you some ideas to begin with. We also have more articles for you if you’re getting started here.
Can I poach from another restaurant?
You may be thinking that the best place to find good staff will be from the surrounding restaurants in the area. Approaching them and offering them a job isn’t illegal but is definitely frowned upon by people in the industry.
Imagine if those restaurants decided to try and poach all of your staff in return. What if they succeeded?
It is respectful to not try and poach, and that respect should be mutual, meaning your employees should be safer from poaching. If they are looking for a change of scenery, then making the most of advertising a job is the best way to attract them.
Should I hire inexperienced staff?
Considering finding good hospitality staff can be a difficult task, it may be worth looking at fresh faces to the industry. School leavers or students can be a valuable pool of untapped talent for the right employer.
If you hire experienced staff, then they will be more useful to you from day one. However, they will usually require a higher salary and may be stuck in their ways when it comes to certain areas.
Newcomers to the restaurant world will be inexperienced, but mouldable, with a hunger to learn. With some time investment, these can eventually become your most valuable team members, so it is always worth exploring this avenue if you are in a position to do so.
Places to find restaurant employees
You may never need to advertise a job listing if you know where to look for the right staff.
- Friends and family
- An easy place to start will be your friends and family, along with the connections of your existing staff. If they know of the right person looking for the job then a personal recommendation can go a long way. They will also have a better feel for the job, so will have a better prospect of staying with you for longer.
- College apprenticeships
- Your local college can be a gold mine of quality employees in the making. Students taking courses in Hospitality and Catering, or Hospitality Management will require industry experience and taking them on as an apprentice can be incredibly valuable. They may not be able to work full-time initially, but you know that they are focused on a career in hospitality, and once they have qualified, they could be a top quality full-time member of the team.
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Where to advertise a restaurant job
If you can’t fill your ranks with either of the previous methods, then you will need to advertise a job listing.
- Your Restaurant Window
- One of the best places to advertise without paying a penny. Your storefront could be passed by hundreds of people every day (unless you are in the middle of the countryside). Putting a job in the window lets everyone passing, as well as your customers, that you are looking for new staff to add to the team.
- Social Media
- There are many great reasons to have an active social media presence for your restaurant, and this is one of them. If you have a strong following, then a job listing can be sent out and shared amongst thousands of people.
- Job Sites
- This is where most businesses will advertise their jobs, and where most employees will go looking, so it is worth paying to post a job on a job site (or few). Advertising a position on a generic site like Indeed will put you in front of a larger audience, but posting on a hospitality-specific site such as Caterer will give you a much more refined set of candidates.
- Local Publications
- While not as wide reaching as a job site, you can also advertise in local media, such as the local newspaper, which will usually have an online job section too. If your region has a local food or hospitality publication, then you could take an advert out in these too.
Improving your recruitment process
So what can we do differently to make sure our recruitment and retention practises match the level of evolution and development we put into our food, drinks and ambience?
- Speed – the recruitment market has changed; it’s moving at a pace few could have envisaged 18 months ago. If you are at the stage where you’re ‘urgently’ recruiting is it too much to expect you to get back to a client’s application within 24 hours to show you’re serious about your own process?
- Pace – if a candidate has applied then they’re interested in what’s on the table, move with the pace that a candidate is comfortable with, if that means the faster the better then that’s a win-win for both sides.
- Technology –the BBC recently reported that a global survey showed that 65% of companies have hired a candidate without ever meeting them in person since the start of the pandemic. I’m not suggesting this would work for all roles, but if it works for you, why not? Video call interviews save you taking time out of the business to sit around and wait for a candidate to show; they are more convenient for the candidate, and in my experience those that have a 1st stage video interview are more likely to show for an in-person 2nd interview (if you need a two stage process – ask yourself ‘do you?’) then no-show and wasting your precious time.
- Be courteous – I’m an avid believer in replying to every application, feeding back to every candidate who’s interviewed; if they’ve given you their time to see if they can fill your role, the least you can do is to take them off the hook of hanging on hoping they’ll find out what’s happening with their application. Technology and automation have made this easier to do then ever. Remember, each time you reply you’re making a deposit in the bank of becoming an employer of choice and showing you value your people-process. Candidates talk, particularly in small markets, make sure they’re talking about their experience with you in a positive light. It will pay off in the long run.
- Money talks – don’t low ball, you’ll lose good people before you’ve even started. Pay what the candidate’s worth and save yourself a re-recruit further down the line when someone else offers them market value. On saying that, if you have a figure in mind that you think is fair and in-line with the current market then stick to your guns – the mercenary trade has been rife over the past 12-months, it’s time to put that one to bed.
- Develop – now is the time to have your people pathway and practises in place:
- How can a team member progress to General Manager and beyond? What does that journey look like for them and what are the touch points they need to meet?
- That level of career growth isn’t for every team member so how do you keep those people engaged with you?
- How are you supporting your people? What practises are in place to further you as an employer of choice; what is the added-value of working as part of your team?
- How do you balance your desire for high performance with mindfulness for your team – can a 4-day working week work for you? Do you have a mental health 1st Aider in the business? Do you guarantee them their birthday as a day-off?
This paragraph was written by Mark Wright of WHAM Consultancy – hospitality and leisure specialist in operations and recruitment
How to make employees want to work at your restaurant
Putting your job listing in front of prospective employees is one thing, making them want to join your team is another. Make sure that your business is an attractive place to work and your recruitment process is up to date. You will not only attract a quality team, but they will stay with you for longer.
- Offer a Decent Salary
- By this, we mean a salary that reflects the level of service you expect from your team. Minimum wage will more than likely be met with minimum effort.
- Good Customer Reviews
- Make sure your review sites paint a good picture of your restaurant. Staff will want to work at a respectable establishment, and a well reviewed restaurant will probably receive good tips from their customers, something that experienced staff will understand.
- Working Hours
- Restaurant employees don’t have the luxury of working 9-5 Monday to Friday. Long evenings, weekends, and split shifts are expected in this industry. However, offering a slightly more flexible shift pattern can make or break a job application for the perfect candidate.
- Training and Development
- If you really want your staff to stick around, then give them a reason to. Career progression will help stop staff leaving for a better position. Training and qualifications are an attractive offering for new staff, and a worthwhile investment for your current team.
- Make sure your current team are looked after
- Keeping your employees happy will mean they will stay with you for longer. It will also mean that you are talked about in higher regard. Those quality employees from that other restaurant may end up coming to you and asking for a job without you needing to advertise at all!
Always be open to new employees
The restaurant industry is full of open positions with staff looking for different roles to try, but not enough quality employees to fill them. If you aren’t taking on new staff then you could miss one of these, only for them to join the restaurant a few doors down. The chances are that you will also lose a team member during the next 6 months too.
If someone approaches you for a position, then always consider them for at least an interview, even if your team is full.
Employees are out there, and they can be yours for the taking. By combining the passive elements outlined above with the active job advertising techniques, then you are giving your restaurant the best chance of finding the best employees available in your area, or even further afield.