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Hiring Restaurant Staff for the Upcoming Summer Season

Every year, restaurants are faced with the challenges of a busy summer season and not enough staff to go around. According to the National Restaurant Association, the industry is projected to add about 525,000 seasonal summer jobs in 2024. This is the second year in a row that eating and drinking establishments added this number, or more, setting a record. The restaurant industry is surpassed only by the construction industry as a creator of seasonal positions.

Here, we’ll explore the areas expecting to see the greatest need and some strategies restaurants take when searching for summer staff.

Where Are Summer Employees Experiencing the Greatest Demand?

Not surprisingly, restaurants in Alaska see some of the greatest increases in summer employment, growing by over 21%. Maine is the only state to beat those numbers, with a whopping 32%. New York and California top the charts with the greatest number of jobs added, increasing by about 48,600 and 41,600, respectively.

Of course, there are those states where the summer heat flipflops their busy seasons. In Florida and Arizona, restaurants see a decline, reducing staff counts by 8,800 and 3,100, respectively. Summer employment by state varies significantly, based on their status as tourist destinations and the weather.

Who’s Filling the Roles?

The good news is that the summer of 2024 is seeing high levels of teenagers entering the workforce, an age group that represents over 20% of our staff. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported over 6.2 million 16 to 19-year-olds in the labor pool in April, the highest number since 2008. There are also about 15.2 million 20 to 24-year-olds in the labor force, a population segment that also accounts for 21% of our workforce. Another record-setting statistic is the 11.4 million adults 65 and over. 

Finding Your Summer Employees

Some restauranteurs stick to the usual job sites, including Craigslist, Indeed, and Snagajob. Others turn to temporary staffing agencies, social media platforms, and job boards or career counselors in local high schools and college campuses. If you’ve ever looked at CoolWorks, a job board designed for seasonal work with many positions, including housing, you’ll notice that the top spots start months before the season begins. These early searchers ensure the best selection and complete interviews and training well before the peak period begins.

Another great source is your current employees. Offer your tried-and-true staff cash or gift cards for employee referrals, mandating they last a specified period.

One of the technologies revolutionizing the restaurant hiring process is Target Workforce. This proprietary technology takes advantage of advanced geo-location, mobile tracking, and IP address verification technology to find the most reliable, trained staff. Then, they send targeted ads on the most popular websites at specific times, targeting the right person at the right time.

Setting Your Summer Staff Up for Success

 A well-thought-out training program is essential to support seasonal employees who are only with you for a brief period. Otherwise, you’ll find them getting the gist of the position just as they’re getting ready to up and leave. Have training documents and videos ready to go, or turn to one of the online training platforms such as 1Huddle. This company uses mobile games to train employees, keeping them interested instead of putting them to sleep.

Are you ready for one of the most exciting seasons of the year? Your staff is too and will appreciate being able to take some vacation time as the days turn longer. Make sure to consider their needs as you plan for your temporary hires. 

Look at your historical data and determine when your summer season typically begins and the busiest days within the coming months. Some restaurants are in the position to hit it out of the ballpark on July 4, while others find themselves in an area where everyone heads in another direction, like to the not-so-distant coastline. 


What month do restaurants hire the most?

Some restaurants start gearing up for the summer season as early as April, while others wait until early June to make their move. Just as the early bird gets the worm, those who put their feelers out sooner than later usually garner a greater selection and find some great seasonal employees to add to their staff.

What is the average age of restaurant employees?

According to the National Restaurant Association, about 37% of restaurant employees are under 25, while 60% are under 35. 

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