3 Ways Restaurant Owners Can Attract and Retain Employees in a Tight Labor Market

3 Ways Restaurant Owners Can Attract and Retain Employees in a Tight Labor Market

Like most industries, the Restaurant and Hospitality space are facing staffing and labor challenges. Three ways Restaurants can help themselves be more competitive in attracting and retaining labor include:

1. Create and/or enhance your restaurant’s employee benefits package:

  • Define your total rewards strategy to attract and retain your ideal employees. Ensure your approach to compensation and benefits is in alignment with your strategy. Do you lead with pay, and benefits should be market competitive? Or do you lead with benefits, flexible scheduling, culture, and time off, and pay is market competitive? Benchmark your programs to see how you compare.
  • Survey your best employees, find out why they love working for you, and promote that internally and on social media.
  • Do you have brand ambassadors? Profile and highlight those folks on social media.
  • Many restaurants are now offering employees 401(k)s, Health Insurance, and paid time off to compete for talent. Some restaurants are offering incentive plans, such as gym memberships. Additional time off for “charity or non-profit” endeavors, bereavement leave, and a flexible time off policy. Tuition support for managers, and assistant managers.

2. Strategically cross-train your employees and emphasize safety:

  • Restaurant owners are thinking outside of the box to maximize their current workforce as they struggle to recruit new hires. A new focus on cross-training front-of-the-house employees and back-of-the-house employees to work both roles has filled some of the labor gaps. It is imperative to train them properly before putting them in an unfamiliar role to reduce workplace injuries and ensure food safety.
  • Make sure you highlight on your website careers page all the safety precautions your restaurant is taking to protect your staff to help attract the best candidates. Be specific about those safety protocols, such as providing personal protection equipment, daily health checks, and paid sick time, if applicable; this will provide peace of mind and confidence that they’ll be in a safe working environment.

3. Ask for referrals and incentivize to keep the talent pipeline full:

  • Restaurant owners can incentivize their current staff with referral bonuses, asking them to refer quality candidates to work with them. People like working with their friends and other like-minded individuals,
  • Restaurant owners can also incentivize applicants to apply and get hired with bonuses paid out after a certain amount of tenure. Plus, sign-on bonus again paid after certain time periods, holiday bonus, or other “spot” incentives- 100% attendance.

These are unique times for restaurants coming out of the pandemic, with customers eager to eat out again but a lack of labor to help support the demand. For more information on how to compete in the labor market, please reach out to our Restaurant Practice group for more information.

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