How to Hire Restaurant Workers During a Crisis

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Nearly all states have allowed dining rooms to open, albeit limited capacity, which means several brands have brought back furloughed employees. Fast casual chain Chili’s has reopened more than 600 of its company-run dining rooms and brought back 40 percent of the 30,000 workers it furloughed. Companies like Outback parent Bloomin’ Brands, Olive Garden parent Darden Restaurants, and Cracker Barrel have also reopened hundreds of dining rooms in recent weeks.

While this is good news for the economy, it also means that the restaurant industry - as experienced as it is in seasonal hiring volume ahead of summer months - may have to work even harder than expected to fill open positions.

What Restaurants Can Do To Reach Qualified Candidates

Even as the market as a whole is suffering from high unemployment, candidates have a lot of options. Restaurant employers who may have furloughed or laid off workers are struggling to cast a net and reach qualified workers to replace those who moved on or have postponed job searches. Because restaurants are facing both seasonal and rebound hiring needs, and recruiting teams have gotten smaller, focusing on how to do more with less in hiring efforts is key.

It’s important to keep an eye on what larger restaurant chains are doing to bring back and hire staff. While larger chains have more resources for recruiting and advertising at their disposal, what they have all done is learned how to pivot - to delivery and curbside service at the height of the shutdown, for example, and now with safety precautions and hiring efforts. With smaller teams and limited resources, an agile strategy can help support recruiting efforts for restaurants.

Technology adoption allows restaurants to offer online application processes, video interviewing, and online onboarding that enable fast, effective hiring. Virtual hiring events has allowed restaurants to quickly adapt and move in-person processes, like pre-employment testing and assessment, online. Companies that may have been behind the times in using automation technology for scheduling and payroll have had to quickly catch up in order to meet worker needs.

Reduce time-to-hire. For any industry accustomed to scaling hiring efforts for seasonal high-volume, time-to-hire is the number one metric to focus on and automation technology can help us close that gap. This means adapting to new technology, a shift in recruiting strategy, and a faster, more responsive screening process.

Recruiting Metrics Time to Fill versus Time to StartRelated article: Measuring time to fill is an important way for recruiters to demonstrate their efficiency.

Is it scalable? Recruiters have had to shift to channels and strategies that can scale, such as video interviewing, virtual onboarding and training, as well as candidate sourcing using talent segmentation and targeting. When testing a new process, the first question to ask is “can we scale this?” If it isn’t scalable, it won’t help high-volume hiring.

Safety precautions are the new normal. This is particularly relevant for restaurants as part of the food supply chain as they adapted to new standards for health and safety guidelines for customers and staff. This is not a temporary or customer-centric initiative; in order to attract qualified talent, companies must be able to shift employer brand focus from sales to safety. How can your company place an emphasis on the health and safety of candidates? How do you implement training for new safety guidelines for customer service as well as storing, cooking and handling food? How are these measures monitored?

Targeted advertising. For restaurants that need to hire quickly, outreach needs to be swift yet targeted. Large companies had digital recruiting systems in place and responsive recruiting teams that could scale their efforts using online advertising to promote restaurant jobs and target qualified candidates. While we don’t all have large-scale tools at our disposal, companies of any size can use targeted online networks that reach candidates at scale. Consider candidates with “lookalike” skills and experience, or those that can translate easily to a restaurant environment from another industry, like hotels or general hospitality.

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Post-COVID Hiring Needs to Be Compelling to Attract the Right Restaurant Talent

Unemployment numbers are high, but in minimum wage industries, some workers receiving benefits are making more money through unemployment insurance than they were as an hourly employee. This may have created an applicant shortage, so how you attract these job seekers must be compelling and timely for your restaurant hiring efforts to succeed.

Topics: Recruiting Strategies

Updated August 17, 2020