Improving Restaurant Culture to Recruit and Retain Staff

New technology and innovations in human resources are rapidly causing existing industries to expand in relation to hiring and retaining employees. For the restaurant industry, whose 2017 annual sales are projected to reach $798.7 billion according to the National Restaurant Association, its continued revenue increase directly correlates with an addition of jobs both at the entry-level and executive-level. In fact, the same report from the National Restaurant Association projects that the restaurant industry will add 1.6 million jobs over the next decade, for a total of 16.3 million jobs by 2027.

However, the tight labor market is causing business owners to experience a decline in applicants across the board, a harder time filling open positions, and difficulty improving employee retention due to employees having vast employment opportunities.

For the restaurant industry, where most of the staff are part-time workers that also balance other various other involvements like school or additional jobs, hiring top talent can be even harder than other industries. Retaining employees is also challenging, with the Bureau of Labor Statistics reporting that the annual turnover rate in the hospitality industry in 2016 topped 72.9 percent.

While the amount of open positions in the U.S. remains very high and the unemployment rate remains low, new employee benefits and improvements to your restaurant culture can help increase your applicant pool and make your employees stay longer:

Allow Flexible Work Schedules

Late last year, The Balance put forward benefits of offering your employees a flexible work schedule. While most restaurants prefer to stay open all day to maximize its sales for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, employees who work long shifts during every meal of the day can experience burnout much more quickly than those who work just one meal. Offering your employees the choice of when they want to work could help prevent your employees from experiencing burnout and help them to remain focused, driven, and more engaged while they are at work.

In the long run, it is more cost effective to your business to have an employee who is more engaged than having one who is experiencing low engagement or motivation. Providing a flexible work schedule may help to provide energy restoration and to help your employees become more focused and perform better while on the job.

Offer Unique Perks

The job duties of a restaurant worker are usually the same across most restaurants. A large part of a candidate’s decision to accept a job comes down to the comparison of wage and benefits. If your restaurant is unable to increase the wage offering due to budget restraints, considering offering perks or benefits that are unique to your restaurant. In addition to providing a free lunch or meal to your employees during their shifts, consider rewarding an employee by offering them a voucher for a future dinner-date on a weekend with a provided meal and bottle of wine. Additionally, throw in a set of movie tickets. While inexpensive for your company’s budget and bottom-line, the unique experience of your gesture will add to the overall employee experience and help attract and retain more employees.

 Implement New Technology

It is common knowledge that technology’s goal is to make tasks easier for humans. By implementing new and cutting-edge technology, you could help to make your employees jobs easier. While most restaurants have already taken several steps to adopt more technology, such as online ordering and electronic wait systems for customers, think about your internal customers, too: your employees. Adopting new technologies to make the employee experience easier will reduce stress levels among your employees while also putting your company to the front of prospective employees’ employment choices.

For example, if you are struggling to hire dishwashers due to the fact that all of your dish washing must be done manually, purchasing dishwashers to help make the manual process much easier may help to improve the experience of your existing employees while also making your position more attractive to candidates. Also, if your existing employees are happy, they are much more likely to recommend your company to  friends and other colleagues. After all, it is widely known that employee referrals are one of the best way to hire top talent.

Provide Continuous Feedback

Employee Benefit Adviser included feedback as one of its top 10 trends influencing the workplace, and it did so for a reason. Additionally, Gallup conducted a study that showed the effects of feedback on the engagement level of employees at various companies. It concluded that “no news is not good news,” or no feedback does not mean good feedback. Employees want to work in environments that foster their growth and development, and by having an open system of dialogue between managers and employees, your workers will feel like they matter more and thus become more engaged while working. Think about it: if no one ever stopped to tell you what you were doing well and what you needed to work on, how would you know how to grow? Employees feel the same way, especially in the restaurant industry where stakes and stress levels can be high. Take a few minutes out of each work week to communicate with your employees in a continuous cycle of feedback. It will improve your employees’ overall performances and also their levels of engagement.

The restaurant industry has huge scale in the job market. Half of all adults have worked in the industry and with jobs in the industry growing at substantial rates, the nation’s low unemployment rate and low inflation are making it harder to hire now more than ever. Put your company ahead of your competition by adopting some of these easy wins for improving company culture.