Strong Recruiting For a Shrinking Workforce
August 04, 2016 | 2767 Views
What ideas are your peers using to find and retain qualified employees in the hospitality industry? At the May 2016 National Restaurant Association show in Chicago, Jason Lyon, Boondocks Hip Management and CHART immediate past president moderated a panel session with members Michele Lange, The Habit Burger Grill, Jeff Drozdowski, Little Caesar’s, and me (Patrick Yearout, Ivar’s Restaurants) titled “Strong Recruiting For a Shrinking Workforce,” during which we offered some best practices on this topic.
Listed below are some of the selected recruiting practices discussed during that session:
- External Sources of Employees
- Patrick – We use Craigslist a lot….it’s the most powerful ad site for us and we get our best bang for the buck when using it. We also use Indeed.com, which has a free option that generates quality applications, and we use Poached Jobs as well. Another source used is Worksource, which is the State of Washington employment agency that helps unemployed people find jobs….and we like posting there because it is free for employers.
- Michele – Another great source to recruit employees from is ProStart, if you happen to have that program in your local high schools, as these students are restaurant-ready. You might also want to look at different work opportunity programs for employees, such as Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles, Café Reconcile in New Orleans, Café Momentum in Dallas, and FareStart in Seattle. These organizations not only give people skills to work in restaurants, but also provide life skills as well.
- Jason – And don’t give up on the traditional avenues of finding people. Get your jobs posted on community bulletin boards or church bulletin boards, visit local colleges and discuss your business on a career day. Also post help wanted signs in your restaurants, etc.
- Job Fairs
- Patrick – It seems like such a simple thing, but the best advice I can give for sourcing candidates at job fairs is to be ‘present’ – stand in front of your booth, put away your phone, and be ready to greet candidates and talk about the different job opportunities you have available. I‘m always shocked how many other employers show up at these fairs and then sit behind their tables and stare into their phones and iPads for four hours, all the while missing some great applicants.
- Jeff – Job fairs also don’t need to be in a convention center or big meeting space with a lot of competitors…they can be right in the lobby of your restaurants. When your customers come in, it’s right there and you’ve got a captive audience to speak with about possible job opportunities.
- Referral Programs
- Jeff – We find people primarily from referrals…from employees who already work for us. If somebody brings in a new employee, we give that existing employee a gift card (like iTunes, for example) or sometimes even cash benefits for $25 or $50.
- Michele – Referrals are our bread and butter. Just this week we rolled out a new referral plan, but we’ve added a retention bonus to it as well. For our hourly members who refer someone, they’ll get $200 for that referral, and then, as long as the trainee stays and completes their training, they will receive a retention bonus as well.
- Patrick – We have a bounty of $100 (after-tax) that goes to current staff members if they refer a new employee, and they receive a bounty of $250 if they refer new managers. In both cases, the referred person must stay for 90 days.
- Remaining Competitive
- Patrick – Every quarter I go onto the different recruiting sites and see what the competition is providing to their new hires. One of the most common new benefits being offered in the Seattle area, for example, is subsidized transit cards because of the difficulty and cost of parking around downtown…and it’s something we are very much considering as a perk for our downtown employees.
- Michele – I would say it’s very important when you do hire people to be transparent with what your wages are. All the different pay rates for each level of our cashiers, cooks, and managers are posted in ‘ladder’ charts in every restaurant…so employees can see as they move up the ladder, they’re also going to earn a pay increase. In addition, we always pay at least a dollar more per hour than minimum wage for our starting wage.
- Jeff – Providing a career path for new employees is important. One of the other things that millennials look for is a company with a strong community identity and one that they believe is good to work for. Therefore, let your candidates know what your company stands for and how you are as a community partner.
- Interviewing Questions
- Jeff – We have a structured interviewing process, but we believe that you can find out a lot by asking two simple questions: ‘Why do you want to work?’ and ‘Why do you want to work for us?’ You find out what the candidates’ motivations and experiences are, and you can learn what they know about you and your brand – and see if they might be a fit for your company.
- Michele – Another piece of advice would be to take your company’s values and principles and use them to create the questions you are going to ask your candidates, and then put those questions into an interview guide for your managers to use. I know a lot of times managers can struggle to come up with questions for an interview, and an interview guide will make sure they are asking the right ones.
- Speed of the Hiring Process
- Michele – Once we do get applications, we make sure to act right away. Especially at the manager level, we are contacting people that same day, interviewing them right away, and if they are a viable candidate, I can guarantee they will have a job in about a week.
- Patrick – Our average used to be 10-12 days from time of the interview to the time of hire, but now it’s down to about 5 days. Moving at the fastest speed we can go and not letting candidates get snapped up by the competition during a lengthy hiring process is working for us.
- Jeff – Speed, the internet, and immediate feedback are the things that millennials are looking for. If you’re used the process of having candidates fill out an application, and then maybe look at it in a day or two, and then get back to them in another few days, that won’t work anymore. Those days are really done. If you get somebody in and you like them, you can’t mess around. Get them hired.
- Michele – Our workweeks start on a Wednesday, and that’s also the first day for new employees. But when the new hires were showing up, they were being left alone for long periods of time because our GMs and DMs were busy sending in their numbers and checking payroll. So we decided to split the onboarding over two days and have new hires come in on Tuesdays so that the managers could make sure the trainees were getting the attention they need, get their uniforms, meet the team members, and begin some preliminary learning. And now when the new hires comes in on Wednesday, they have some basic knowledge and more confidence to begin their position training.
- Jeff – All of our new employees go to a central location for an orientation session where they learn all that they will need to know about Little Caesar’s before they get started. So before they even walk into their worksite on their first day, they have an understanding of our expectations when it comes to things like dress code, food safety, cleanliness, and job specifics. This helps to reduce turnover because employees are aware of everything ahead of time.
- Patrick – We switched from having our new hires fill out a very, very, very thick stack of papers during their onboarding process to using online onboarding about two years ago. We use a local company out of Seattle called McKenzie Chase Management and worked with them to develop a customized onboarding program for our company…it’s not the fanciest system and doesn’t have a lot of bells and whistles, but it works well for us and our managers like it. So now instead of spending all that time on paperwork on the first day, our managers actually have time to bond with their new staff members and make sure they get comfortable with their workstation and meet their co-workers.
Feel free to leave a comment on what best practices are working for you and your organization.