Despite easing pressure in the labor market, restaurant operators still place labor as a top concern. According to Datassential’s 2024 Forecast, the three top challenges are food costs, coming in at 63%, while 41% went to labor and 38% to inflation. Registering on the plus side is continued pent-up consumer demand for the restaurant experience and the use of AI and technology to improve the customer experience.
So, what does this mean for us as the holidays approach and we go in search of more staff to fill one of the busiest seasons for many restaurants? In light of the environment, there are actually two approaches this year: creating a system where the current staff can manage the increasing number of guests or recruiting additional staff early, like one month ago.
Let’s explore the options and how to ensure your guests receive the best customer service during the holidays.
Start Your Recruitment Process Early
I know we kind of missed the boat on this one, but if you haven’t started recruiting yet, now’s the time. Know that you’re one of many restaurants looking for additional staff and strategize on how to stand out from the crowd.
Because of its temporary nature, many operators turn to seasonal help. On the other hand, those looking at future expansions or see opportunities to advance current staff benefit from preparing and training long-term staff now. As Benjamin Franklin so adeptly said, “By failing to prepare, you’re preparing to fail.”
We’ve all been there. Before you know it, the holidays are a breath away, and finding qualified candidates is no longer viable. At this time, a quick response and a shortened, thorough hiring process is essential. There’s nothing worse than getting a promising resume, setting it down due to business pressures, and calling the next day only to hear they just accepted a position.
Offer a Bonus
Some of your employees may have friends looking for additional income as 2023 comes to a close. They just need an incentive to search their social media rolodex. As the countdown begins, it’s best to consider a referral bonus that makes them take notice. Depending on your establishment, that may translate to $200 or more, payable after a designated period.
Along the same lines, offering incentives to high-performing team members can instill a sense of appreciation that translates to employees going the extra mile for you when you need them the most.
It’s easy to assume that most staff would appreciate some time off during the holidays. While it would be nice to base this on those who have been with you the longest, that often leaves your best employees off the schedule when you need them the most.
The good news is that if you connect with your staff and find out their preferences (without promises), you’ll find that some prefer to work New Year’s Eve for tips, and others would rather have the end of 2023 off and work Christmas. Through direct communications, you may be surprised at how these things have a way of working out. Flexible scheduling also includes having a no-show list for those inevitable call-ins.
Getting the Staff You Need
Some operators use creative copy on their website to entice applicants. The career page should be written in your voice so they understand your restaurant’s overall culture. Include the perks that take you to the top in a competitive hiring market.
A newer recruiting concept is Target Workforce. This technology-based hiring platform uses advanced geo-location, geo-framing, and GPS to help you connect to local, qualified restaurant workers. It then sends targeted ads that reach the right people at the right time. Are you ready to explore how technology can transform the hiring process? Contact EMERGING and ask about Tarket Workforce or schedule a consultation today.
Why is the restaurant industry short-staffed?
When the pandemic hit in 2020, restaurants were forced to shut down, and employees were forced to turn to other industries to survive. In the process, they found some positions with higher pay, more benefits, and better hours.
This effect opened many operators’ eyes, realizing they needed to create a better workforce culture and incentives. As more adapted to changing times, more employees came back to the fold, until, at present, we are at pre-pandemic employment levels. Despite this, according to Nation’s Restaurant News, job openings in the accommodations and restaurant sector still sit at over 1 million.
How do I set up a holiday schedule?
While it may seem overwhelming, you can get through this task without experiencing too much discontent. The best move is to start early and have each staff member talk with you or write down their preferred time off during the holidays. Once you have this information, you’ll find the schedule is easier than anticipated, or there’ll be some significant compromises.