5 Essential Tips for Restaurant Hiring

For most restaurants, recruitment and retention are among the biggest ongoing operational challenges. We may have emerged from the uncertainty and severe staffing shortages of the pandemic era, however, hiring is still time-consuming, turnover remains costly, and the competition for talent is as fierce as ever. 

With that in mind, we’re taking a look back at an illuminating panel discussion from 2021. 

At a moment when many businesses were struggling just to stay open, we gathered together industry thought leaders for expert advice on hiring staff for restaurants. While those difficult days are behind us, the expert insights from that panel discussion remain deeply relevant today. 

Relishworks Director of Internal Innovation Programs Bethany Zak moderated a conversation that also included Ross Bodenberg—an account executive for full-service hiring app Landed; and Kim Smith—owner and operator of staffing consulting group Smika Strategy.

For the full panel discussion, visit our Facebook page


5 Essential Tips for Restaurant Hiring

In many ways, the last few years have been an inflection point for restaurants. While hiring and retention issues are nothing new, recent events have magnified these challenges. Today, restaurants must embrace creative and innovative solutions to long-standing industry problems. 

The participants in our panel discussion offered expert advice on hiring staff for restaurants that point the way toward long-term solutions:


1. Create a positive workplace culture

Gen Z applicants care about more than just the paycheck. Compensation is important, but it’s not the only thing that matters to the current pool of candidates. 

“Growth opportunity and cultural fit are more important than pay,” Bodenberg said. “Diversity, inclusion, and equity hiring are also on the rise in what workers value from their employer.” 

One of the best things you can do to court qualified candidates is to create an atmosphere in which your current employees are happy. As Smith noted during the panel discussion, the quality of the work environment is the biggest immediate barrier for many workers. Qualified candidates may be discouraged from applying, or accepting a job offer, if they don’t perceive your restaurant as welcoming, inclusive, or conducive to professional growth. 

Other barriers, said Kim Smith, are access to transportation, parking, and child care. Your ability to provide flexible scheduling, predictable shifts, and even a stipend for any of the above expenses could go a long way toward attracting quality candidates. 

Keep these considerations at the top-of-mind as you recruit, hire, and schedule personnel. 


2. Engage candidates in the online spaces where they already spend time

Most restaurants will blast programmatic ads across the most popular job boards and social media platforms. This is a smart first step. But don’t overlook the online spaces where your best candidates are already spending their time. 

Be sure you’re using platforms like Snapchat, Instagram, and TikTok to find and connect with prospective hires. Younger job candidates are already spending their time on these platforms. You’re far more likely to find them here than on the traditional job posting forums. 

Likewise, most localities have neighborhood Facebook groups where real people convene for information, conversation, and engagement. 

As Kim Smith said, “You can meet different people with different choices [of] where they are.” 

The key is to be sure that you are not only amplifying your recruitment messaging, but that you are tailoring this messaging to the full spectrum of platforms available to you. This means going beyond the traditional job posting sites and creating visibility on the channels where your best candidates are already hanging out. 


3. Move quickly to lock in quality candidates

If you’ve found a promising candidate, don’t waste a minute. Be prepared to make an offer quickly. In today’s hiring environment, time is not on your side. 

“It’s important for employers to respond that much faster to candidates when they express interest in a position,” Bodenberg said.

There is intense competition for quality candidates throughout the hospitality industry. If you delay in making an offer, another employer may well swoop in and take advantage of your hesitance.

One of the most essential tips for restaurant hiring today is to enter every interview fully prepared to make a job offer and begin the onboarding process right away. 


4. Leverage leading edge hiring technology

Of course, before you make an offer, you’ll want to know that your prospective hires are a good fit for your restaurant. Fortunately, we have an increasingly powerful array of technology-based solutions at our fingertips to measure job qualifications, streamline vetting, automate interview scheduling, and more.

But, our panelists note, it’s important to find a balance between automation and human oversight.

"The future of staffing is going to be embracing technology with personal touch," Bodenberg explained.

Take full advantage of hiring and staffing technologies to help automate and refine the otherwise costly and time-consuming steps traditionally involved in hiring. But be sure to also place human decision-makers at key points in the process from vetting, to interviewing, to onboarding. 


5. Create opportunities for growth 

One of the most essential tips for restaurant hiring is to improve retention. It costs far more to hire a new employee than to keep an existing employee with the organization. So how can you improve retention?

Our panelists agree that you should give your employees compelling reasons to stick around. Smith noted that “Great people, getting them to show up, means you’ve created a career path or a job opportunity that’s good in the long-term.” 

Offer your employees access to educational programs, meaningful wage increases, management opportunities, and industry certifications. Reward the value your employees create for your restaurant by helping them increase their own value within the industry. 

Your best employees will reward you by contributing that value to the long-term growth of your restaurant.


Choosing the Best Solution for Recruitment and Retention

One of the biggest takeaways from that panel discussion was the connection between recruitment and retention. The more effectively you attract quality candidates at the outset, the more likely these candidates are to become long-term contributors. 

The very best hiring and staffing solutions streamline hiring and retention efforts to ensure that you are attracting and retaining the top talent in the industry.

Find out how the best tech-based staffing solutions can help you restaurant hire and keep qualified candidates.