You’re probably well aware that the restaurant industry, among others, is currently suffering from a significant labor shortage. The pandemic both highlighted and accelerated a lot of issues that were already present, namely that many restaurant workers either are or feel underpaid, overworked, unvalued, and unrewarded for their loyalty. As a result, they’re leaving their former employers in droves and aren’t necessarily showing any signs of coming back.

While perhaps understandable on their side, where does this leave you? What can you do to attract new employees, and how can you increase the odds they’ll stay? This article explains what restaurant owners can do to attract and retain the employees that are so incredibly essential to the success of their business.

#1: Figure Out Why Your Employees Are Leaving

More than ever, it’s important to work hard at keeping your existing employees happy and feeling appreciated. Why? Because it’s less expensive to retain your current team than it is to spend time and money trying to replace them (which involves posting job ads, interviewing candidates, training new hires, and so on).

Start by conducting exit interviews whenever you lose someone. Ask them specifically why they’re leaving and what you could have done better. In addition, talk to your current staff members. Getting their honest feedback will give you insight into what you should modify or offer that will make them happier. Then create an action plan and implement any feasible changes. Ultimately, doing this will result in increased employee loyalty, which will translate into improved employee retention.

#2: Use Out-of-the-Box Hiring Methods

Gone are the days when you posted a job ad online and then sat back and watched as resumes flooded your inbox. Now you must work harder to find qualified candidates and use alternative ways to inform them of your job openings. So how do you do this? Consider these hiring ideas:

  • Encourage your staff to refer people they know by creating an employee referral program. Reward them financially if you hire a referral of theirs who stays with you for at least six months.
  • Spread the word verbally. Tell your friends, family, and community that you’re searching for new workers. Like they say, sometimes it’s all about who you know!
  • Run social media ads and post your open job on online forums and job boards. Get your job openings in front of as big of an audience as possible.
  • Host a networking and/or industry social event so more people get to know you and your restaurant. Don’t forget to advertise the fact that you have open positions that you’re looking to fill.

#3: Rethink Your Service and Management Models

It might be time to consider making big changes to how you run your business. Shaking things up might be just what you need to attract and retain more employees (and increase your profit!) Let’s briefly talk through some of your options.

  • Utilize technology to lessen your reliance on employees. One example includes putting QR codes on tables so guests can view your menu, order, and pay using their phones. Using the ‘suggest a tip’ feature can also increase server tips, leading to higher staff satisfaction.
  • Look into other management models like, for instance, open-book management, which educates every staff member about the restaurant’s finances and the role they play in the success of the business. Empowering your employees in this way has been found to boost profitability, workplace satisfaction, and employee retention.

The current hiring environment is clearly frustrating at times. After all, you can’t maintain a successful and profitable restaurant without having enough hands on deck to cook and deliver delicious food and provide top-notch service to your patrons. Start with trying your best to retain your current employees so you don’t have to spend lots of time, energy, and money on finding and hiring new folks. When you lose an employee, talk to them to see why they’re leaving, and check in with your existing staffers to see if there’s anything you can do to improve their workplace satisfaction.

When you do have to hire, be creative by establishing employee referral programs, hosting industry events, using word-of-mouth advertising, and running social media ads so people hear about your openings. Cast a wide net so you capture as many leads as you can! And, finally, be open to shaking up your service and management models. Think big; maybe it’s time to try something completely different that will enable you to empower your employees or perhaps even lessen your dependence on them.