Ask any foodservice operator and they’ll tell you. A restaurant is only as good as the team of employees running it. In an industry marked with high pressure and higher turnover, hiring and retention is an evergreen priority.
FSR Magazine reports that the labor shortage in the United States is at a high, with 43% of jobs in the accommodation and food service industry remaining unoccupied for over three months—the longest lead time in any industry. A few simple tips can help—
1. Look for Industry Vets.
People who come from the foodservice industry won’t find themselves surprised by the demands of the foodservice industry. Training costs will be lower. Retention odds will be higher. Plus, a person with a foodservice background will look at your job position less as a job and more as a stepping stone to building a career.
2. Say Thanks Often and “We Need You” Even More Often.
Fair pay will always be key to employee retention. But studies show that money doesn’t actually impact job satisfaction as much as appreciation. Be sure to acknowledge the contributions of each team member. Consider setting up a reward program. Don’t let too many shifts go by without a sincere thank you.
3. Perk Their Interest.
Little gestures breed big loyalty. Maybe it’s a free shift meal. Or enacting the time-honored industry tradition of “family dinner”, where staff cooks and shares a meal before the restaurant opens. Parent friendly shifts or sanctioned vacation time can make an impact too. Any effort to improve employee quality of life helps to improve the quality of the employee.
4. Learn from the Big Dogs.
There are businesses in the foodservice industry who are known for being excellent places to work. From Costco to In-and-Out, their examples are applicable to proprietors of all sizes. Flexible hours, clear paths for promotion, and generous benefits packages have all contributed to loyal employees and low turnover.
5. Stay in Hiring Mode.
With high staffing needs, it’s important to never fall out of recruitment mode. Even when you’ve got a full employee roster, keep a lookout for future hires. Talk to potential candidates about their long-term goals to determine whether they’re a short-term solution or a long-term investment. Look for demonstrated work ethic or the spark of self-motivation, and don’t forget to recruit from within. Today’s dishwasher might be tomorrow’s star server. A prep cook could transition to a great chef. Someone who has shined in the front of the house might be looking for a move to the back of the house action. Whether outside applications or inside talent, foodservice team members are the most important ingredient to a successful operation.