The Tech Connection in Attracting Talent

Summer is prime hiring time for restaurants. However, according to recent data, the “quit rate” in the US accommodation and food services is the highest among sectors and is outpacing the overall quit rate by more than 70 percent. What can restaurant operators do to attract and retain talent  for the busy season ahead?

Modern Restaurant Management (MRM) magazine reached out to Jennifer Mathew, senior manager of talent acquisition and strategy at Paycom on the role technology plays in hiring and retention. She brings more than 17 years of human resources and talent acquisition expertise to her role. She previously spent three years  as an executive recruiter for restaurants, and her recruitment experience varies from fast food chains to fine dining, and for roles ranging front of house, back of house and management.

In what ways should restaurants be utilizing technology to reach potential staff as well as retain the ones they have?

Restaurants, just like any high-turnover business, need to use an intuitive application process that prioritizes quick and easy applications. Potential applicants are now submitting applications at unconventional times and places most convenient for them, whether that’s while they wait in line at the dry cleaners or during a break at work. I often see clients using the “quick apply” feature on our applicant tracking software for this exact reason. Applicants only need to insert the bare minimum amount of information to enter the candidate pool. If the restaurant is interested in hiring, they can prompt the applicant to easily schedule an interview and complete the full application in the software. In short, if restaurants can’t keep the pace candidates want to move, they’ll lose out on potential staff.

For staff retention, find technology solutions that allow restaurant managers to prioritize employees. Restaurants are an extremely fast-paced, customer-centric industry. When restaurants invest in HR tech, employees feel greater managerial support, even on a busy shift. For instance, some time-off request tools allow 24/7 automated time-off decisioning, giving employees greater control over their time off while helping managers oversee schedules and avoid the human errors commonly associated with written or verbal time-off requests.

How important is technology in attracting talent, particularly in a human-centric industry such as restaurants?

Complicated processes are one of the worst issues you can have in restaurant talent management. Potential recruits are looking for a seamless process and simple technology, from applications all the way through onboarding. A negative candidate experience may signal a negative work experience for those potential employees. The right applicant tracking software helps create a seamless and consistent experience for applicants, ensuring they receive application updates or interview reminders in a timely manner. Candidates may also use software to converse with recruiters directly via text to ask questions or note their preferred interview times to schedule at their convenience.

One of the biggest complaints from restaurant operators is that potential new hires often don't show up for interviews. How can technology help mitigate this issue?

Eliminating in-person interviews may help avoid the consequences of interview no-shows. With talent acquisition software, candidates can answer questions via video recordings rather than a formal interview, which allows for a more streamlined and flexible process. Applicant tracking software can also track all conversations with candidates in one thread, helping candidates see where they are in the interview process.

However, no matter what strategy or tech you’re using, no-call no-shows are an inevitable part of the hiring process, especially in the restaurant industry. Technology can help alleviate the impact of missed interviews. If the applicant simply forgot about their interview, applicant tracking systems can issue automatic interview reminders or prompt them to reschedule if they didn’t show up.

What do potential employees want from a company’s tech stack?

Between turnover, schedule inconsistencies and fluxes in busy periods, I think restaurants are one of the most unpredictable industries out there. From my experience, employees want anything that makes their jobs and work life easier. Restaurants that feature self-ordering kiosks or efficient point of sale (POS) software may be more attractive to potential staff because of the efficiency gains and ease of use. Effective HR software is another selling point. Restaurant employees are constantly on the move, and mobile accessibility to time clocks or time-off requests greatly improves the employee experience. Automated payroll processing is another key attractor for employees. Employees want technology where they can verify their paycheck is accurate, including any overtime or extra shifts. Pay is important, and technology that confirms payroll accuracy is a major perk in a tech stack.