How to Survive the Restaurant Employee Gap

By Ujëbardha Bekolli, Contributor

The restaurant industry is known for its employment gap, the staff turnover rate, and the inability to find employees with the right skills. Simply said, there aren’t many or enough quality employees it seems. This phenomenon is the opposite of most of the other industries. In fact, it is getting difficult for restaurant recruiters to find qualified employees. 

Although the employment gap is a significant issue, there are ways to turn it around. Bellow, you will find a few tips on how to overcome the restaurant employee gap and hire the right people.

Focus on Your Restaurant’s Talent

Focus on improving your restaurant team’s talent.

Just because the employment pool is tough right now doesn’t mean restaurant owners should just hire anyone. Sure, you need a body to staff the busy times, but a bad server can do a lot of damage to your restaurant’s reputation.

Having a talented and dedicated employee is imperative to the success of the restaurant. There are just too many horror story of poor restaurant employees, that operators and recruiters need to get their staff right. Focus on hiring talented staff. Look for hardworking chefs and cooks, organized managers, and charismatic servers. 

Talent should be supported with hard work and dedication. A successful restaurant takes more than just one talented employee. It takes a team of hard-working people who will do their best, so look for motivated employees who want to make your business successful.

Of course, with the employee gap, finding the best talent can be hard. Savvy operators will also look to build and cultivate that talent from within. That means continued training, industry certifications, mentoring, and other industry-career planning. As an industry, we need to start looking at restaurant jobs as lifelong careers and not just jobs “until something better comes along.” That starts with building up our current teams.

Building Staff Loyalty

Build restaurant staff loyalty.

Besides talented employees, a successful restaurant requires loyalty as well. Of course, loyalty is a two-way street, and you need to constantly display loyalty to your staff, too. 

There are a myriad of ways to build staff loyalty – great pay & benefits, for starters --  but one of the best is to make sure that your employees know the rewards for sticking around your business long-term and offering guests amazing service. Is it increased vacation time? Higher wages? Promotion? Tuition reimbursement? Something else? It’s entirely up to you and the type of culture you want to build. 

The most natural and amazing of rewards still need to be augmented by all-star managers who create a comfortable, family-like environment for your team. You and your managerial team need to build a positive work environment, create positive energy for the staff, and be firm and just with your team. All the rewards in the world won’t matter if your staff feel like they’re walking to hell with every shift. The more comfortable your staff feels at work, the more comfortable your guests will feel visiting your restaurant. 

Bringing the Employees Together

Don’t forget about restaurant staff team building.

A good way to bring a positive and strong organizational culture is getting the employees together for team building activities. That could be achieved in many different ways, but some of them could be celebrating different occasions or milestones, having staff parties (e.g. holiday parties), team outings to local sporting events or carnivals, describing organizational missions and challenges, regular check-ins and meetings with the staff, exercising your purpose economy mission and more.

You Should Always be Hiring

Restaurants should consider to constantly be looking for new employees

An extremely underrated but useful strategy for having the best employees in town is to constantly be looking for them. Not only will this shorten the amount of time your staff is left shorthanded, but it gives you the opportunity to hire a team you love, fits into your culture, and has bought in your business. 

We want to note that the “always hiring” mentality can be an extremely stressful responsibility to take on. It can be time-consuming and tiring, but you may find the long-term reward worth the effort. Hiring an incredibly talented employee that brings positive energy to your team and guests is invaluable.  

About the Author:

Ujëbardha Bekolli is passionate about lifelong learning and self-development. She writes for Kiwi, which is a restaurant LMS that aims to help restaurant owners train their staff in an easier and more effective way. Moreover, they offer online training courses for different restaurant services.