Post-COVID lockdown, restaurants are building popularity and once again becoming a place of relaxation and fun. To build the business to previous levels, restaurants are trying new menus, phone apps, and customer incentives. However, what they’re missing is the staff. They’ve survived waves of COVID surge, periods of lockdowns, and political turmoil, but restaurant workers are scarce and in serious demand. After losing their jobs during the first wave, many restaurant workers relocated, changed positions, or left the industry altogether. With the restrictions lifted, staffing has become the number one priority for restaurants across the country, said CNN.
Looking to Gen Z
Both local and chain restaurants have made it their mission to staff their establishments adequately. It’s been a challenge, but some new ideas have proven to be effective. Restaurants must be creative when hiring new staff, especially with the influx of Gen Z workers hitting the job market.
According to Forbes, Gen Z values jobs with higher wages, flexibility, equality, similar core values, and mental health resources. It’s no surprise this generation is looking for meaning in their work (as is, likely, most generations), and businesses are tailoring their hiring process to entice them to come on board and stay on board.
One Connecticut restaurant hired high school students through a program called Scholars Making Dollars, said Business Insider. The students get mentorship through the program while holding a part-time job within the restaurant. The same restaurant also hires employees from neighboring states and provides them weekend housing while working. Family members of the restaurant drive the employees in on Thursday and back on Monday. This helps the restaurant and the workers in New York who may have been having trouble finding jobs, said Insider, since many more restaurants closed in New York than in Connecticut.
Entice Potential Hires
Another way to entice employees is to incentivize them with bonuses. According to the Spokane Journal, a Washington state-based restaurant has been recruiting new employees through referral bonuses for existing employees. Anyone who brings in an employee, whether a friend, family member, or former worker, the restaurant will dole out $200 should the candidate get hired and stay for 30 days. If they stay 90 days, the referring employee receives another $200.
In Miami, a coffee shop got creative by starting to hire current customers, reported the New York Times. Since they already like the business and they’ve seen it in action, owner Camila Ramos has hired employees who were day traders and a former real estate agent. Discovering different pools of professionals might help gain employees for your business who are looking for new experiences and have unique skills to bring to the table. Ramos has, in the past, unflinchingly required three years of experience for her coffee shop but has now shifted expectations to hire valuable workers who may need more training.
Not a last-ditch-effort idea, but certainly a creative one is throwing a hiring party, which is exactly what Taco Bell did in 2019. The parties offered free food, on-the-spot interviews, and employee tuition discounts. They gathered close to 75 in-person applicants and over 300 online applicants just in their Indianapolis location, said CNN.
The workforce has changed dramatically since the pandemic and may continue. Workers are looking for jobs with more meaning and a healthy work/life balance. Restaurant owners can ride the wave with them, keep up with trends and offer the same sort of treatment, wages, and care that they would want from a job.