A happy, productive team will stay with you longer—and make your customers feel welcomed and well cared for. In turn, you’ll see the result: in your bottom line. By optimizing your hiring strategies and developing a strong internal culture, you can keep turnover low and morale sky-high — providing the kind of experience that customers crave and share.

Here are four tips for attracting top candidates — and maintaining a company culture that’s built to last.

1. Find job-seeking foodies.

When it comes to finding fresh talent, creativity is key. To fill administrative staff and management roles, consider sourcing for candidates on traditional career platforms like LinkedIn, Indeed, and Glassdoor. When looking for culinary talent, post job openings on industry-specific career pages — like Poached Jobs, Culinary Agents, and Restaurant Careers.

But don’t stop there. Plenty of people pass by your restaurant each day — one of them might be your next general manager, star bartender or another over-delivering employee, whose presence changes everything.

 

Take advantage of this foot traffic by hosting an open call for talent. For example, if your restaurant has a track record of attracting student employees, consider hosting a booth at the local high school or college job fair. Or, if you’re based in a buzzing theater district, you may consider hiring waitstaff with a flair for showmanship — and start by posting flyers at local acting schools. Cook up a strategy, make it happen, then enjoy the resulting payoff!

2. Write mouthwatering job descriptions.

You want every edge you can find. So to attract the right candidates, pen job descriptions that reach out and grab the right kind of attention

Yes, you should include concrete details to give candidates a firm grasp of the role. But storytelling is the secret sauce that will make them hungry for more. Share what you’re really about — who you are, what you do, and why you do it. For inspiration, consider this sample blurb:

Suzie’s Diner isn’t just a breakfast spot — to our customers, we’re a home away from home. We provide hearty helpings of comfort food, just how mom used to make it. If you’re looking to join a team that’s more like a family, this job is right for you.

Missions matter — so make them top-of-mind.

3. Identify winning skills.

When it comes to interviewing, don’t evaluate candidates on level of experience alone — soft skills are a key ingredient for success in the restaurant.

Whether entry-level or experienced, employees need soft skills like positivity and teamwork to handle difficult situations (which are inevitable in the restaurant industry). Other soft skills include leadership, adaptability, proactiveness, communication, and problem-solving.

To identify soft skills in a short interview, develop a list of targeted questions. For instance, to assess problem solving, you might ask: How would you approach a busy shift when the kitchen is out of a best-selling ingredient?

4. Build a culture-driven company.

Studies show that only 35% of US workers are actively engaged on the job — and only 21% report feeling strongly valued at work. When workers feel like they’re part of a bigger picture, they perform better on the job — and create a comfortable environment for your customers.

To build a strong company culture, you’ll want to do a few things:

  • Share your core values from the start. When interviewing candidates, be transparent about what type of establishment you are — and what you value most. Make a new hire’s first few weeks exceptional by providing a supportive onboarding process that articulates your mission, values, and purpose.
  • Practice active communication.From day one, make sure employees are clear on expectations and rules — and that any changes are communicated as quickly as possible. If problems arise, address them immediately and diplomatically.
  • Get employee buy-in on important issues. Regardless of role, every employee has valuable ideas on how to improve operations and better serve customers. Empower everyone to speak up in order to cultivate a community where employees feel like their voices are heard.
  • Provide opportunities for advancement. Get to know your employees — and their career goals. Maybe your line cook dreams of one day opening his own restaurant — and maybe your insights and support can help get him there. Invest in your employees, and they’ll invest in you.
  • Make work perks a focus. Offer benefits that make your employees excited about coming into work each day. Consider offering bonding opportunities, like “family dinners” — and always be the kind of boss that you would want to report to.
  • Take staff temperature. Regularly check in to see if employees are satisfied. Handling staff issues may seem like just another item on your to-do list — but the more available you are to employees, the less frequently issues will arise.

5. Retain top restaurant employees.

If your turnover is higher than the industry average of 75%, it’s time to consider improving employee retention. Ideally, you want to have the highest retention rate possible and the lowest turnover rate possible. There are a number of ways to address staff sentiment and course-correct before valued team members resign. Here are just a few:

  • Implement regular employee surveys. By sending out anonymous surveys on a monthly, quarterly, or biannual basis, you can gauge how staff members are feeling about their role, team, and environment.
  • Hold one-on-ones with employees. One-on-one meetings can uncover valuable insights into how effectively your organization is supporting its staff. During these meetings, be sure to let employees speak without interruption, interjecting only as needed. Doing so will help employees feel confident and valued as they express any feedback or concerns.
  • Give praise where praise is due.Practice recognizing accomplishments both big and small. Try to give positive feedback in real time — or write compliments down to share later. Employees will feel encouraged and appreciate that their hard work has been recognized.
  • Make performance reviews count.Let go of the traditional review structure, where employees are told how they’re doing, and open up a dialogue about how staff members see themselves contributing to growth. Have a two-sided conversation about their goals and discuss how to cultivate skills in order to get there.

At the end of the day, the food business comes down to people: the employees that clock into work every day, the owners that inspire them, and the diners they serve. Satisfaction starts in-house — so investing in company culture is one of the smartest decisions you’ll ever make.

Hungry for more hiring tips? Explore our guide, Building a Five Star Team.

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