Lessons from Restaurant Hiring

Last week, Offspring #1 and I had an appointment that ended around noon. We decided to grab some Subway on our way home, and not only could we order food, but we could sit in the actual restaurant and eat it. Just like it was 2019 or something. (Switzerland has been more cautious about reopening than the US and our vaccinations still lag behind US vaccines.)

We were positively giddy.

We’re not the only people who are excited about eating in a restaurant these days, and that’s good news for the restaurant business and great news for restaurant employees. The Wall Street Journal Reports

Restaurants and other hospitality businesses added a seasonally adjusted 343,000 jobs in June, the department said Friday. Retailers added 67,000 jobs last month, including strong gains at clothing stores, indicating Americans are getting dressed up to go out and back to offices. Similarly, personal-services businesses such as salons and dry cleaners added 29,000 jobs.

Woo-hoo! And that also means increased wages, including signing bonuses for fast-food workers. Of course, increased labor costs mean increased prices and decreased profits for businesses that were destroyed by the pandemic. But, it’s great news for employees themselves.

And it’s bringing up some essentials in hiring: If you can’t find employees, you need to change something.

Amusement parks are doing it with free french fries for their employees. (Admittedly, this would probably encourage me to get a job. I mean, a paycheck is good, but french fries? Yum. Throw in some brownies, and I am there.) Of course, that’s free french fries with an increased wage and some family passes.

If you’re struggling to hire people for any position, you really need to look at what you can offer that your competitors cannot. (Remember, when hiring, competitors are not only companies in the same sector, but companies that would hire the same type of people.) While free french fries are probably not going to lure in your new Chief Human Resources Officer (unless, you know, it’s me you want to hire), there is something out there that can put you ahead of other companies. For example:

  • Bump your salaries, so you’re not paying midpoint but above midpoint.
  • Increase your weeks of vacation.
  • Ensure that you have options for working from home (most employees actually want a hybrid situation).
  • Forget that crappy hotdesking thing. (A friend’s company bought Ikea carts for all employees so they could wheel their stuff around and find a different place every day. Do not do that. Employees hate it.)
  • Train managers so that you have good management. Fire bad managers.
  • Ask your employees what perks they want (not just what your French fry scarfing CHRO wants).
  • Ask your candidates what they look for in a job.
  • Forget about purple unicorns. Forget about unicorns altogether. If you have a unique position, be willing to either pay a freaking fortune for it or to train a horse to sit still while you tape a horn on its forehead.

I know you don’t have unlimited budgets to bring people in. But, how much money do you lose not having key positions filled? How much money do you lose when employees quit because your managers are untrained or just plain bad? Make sure you look at the whole picture. Take a page out of the restaurant business and make your business more attractive to potential employees.

Image by Pexels from Pixabay

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3 thoughts on “Lessons from Restaurant Hiring

  1. Excellent article, now here’s hoping that the big corporations will actually implement these suggestions. A small business might be more inclined, but we also need those big businesses, like Walmart, as one example, to forget the emphasis on the high bottom line profit. Right now, companies are offering jobs with a mere fraction wage level amount over $15/ hour for a skilled experience applicant and expect their offer to be acceptable. Workers today want guarantees in pay, not figurative sums based on a maybe compensation for delivering a forever changing job performance level. Offering commission pay based off a “sales achievement “ is merely words. Corporations need to spend money on their employees first, then evaluate them as they are working and eliminate the poor performing individuals. If done correctly, you should have very little turnover and great profit.
    Treating employees as disposable items will eventually kill your company

  2. Along with respect and fair wages, I highly recommend generous employee discounts. This attracts employees that are excited about your product, and those are the ones you want working for you. I had a second job at a spa and I was able to purchase products at cost (!) and I received free treatments every quarter. It was hard keeping a second job, but every time I thought about quitting, I thought about the free massage or the $100 bottle of beauty cream that I would get for $18.
    Basically, employers should want their new employees to call up their friend and say something like “And you won’t believe this! I get [really cool perk] !” Employers just need to figure out what would be in the blank: “3 weeks PTO” or “4 free passes a month” or “a 30% discount.”

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