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Hospitality managers

How to hire and keep quality restaurant staff

Staff turnover off the charts in your restaurant? Follow some of these tips for a better hiring and retaining process.

Staff turnover is without a doubt one of the biggest challenges hospitality owners everywhere are facing. Even though the worst of the recession is behind us, turnover rates in the hospitality sector are still on the rise.

So how do we turn that around? What's the trick to hiring quality staff that don't leave you at the drop of a hat?There are actually a few things you can do to improve your chances of gaining loyal staff, starting with the hiring process. I've outlined a few of them for you in this post. 

Great places to find staff

When it comes to trying to fill a job position, advertising on job boards still works just fine, but don't stop there. Think outside the box. Use referrals; ask your current staff or other people around you if they know anyone who would be great for the job.

Another thing that's proven to be very successful recently is posting a job opening on social media. At our latest Upside Live event, the guys from the Auction Rooms cafe told us Instagram had helped them with recruitment. When you think about it, it makes a lot of sense. People who follow you on social media already have a proven interest in your restaurant, and are most likely going to feel very passionate about working for you.

This simple Instagram photo by Auction Rooms Cafe attracted a lot of interested applicants

But the old sheet on the window still works too, guys. If people make the effort to drop off their CV and introduce themselves in person, that's already a pretty good start.

Hire on attitude first, experience second

I know I'm not the first person to stress the importance of attitude over experience, but I'm going to take a little time to repeat this anyway. Attitude really is vital when you're trying to retain staff. It's attitude that makes a person give their best and it's attitude that makes for good customer service and a positive atmosphere in the restaurant. You can train your staff on skills they might be lacking; it's much harder, dare I say nearly impossible, to change someone's attitude.

Think back to your own first restaurant job. Most likely someone just gave you a shot and you took that chance to work hard and prove yourself. That's the kind of staff you want for your own establishment. You'll find that people with the right attitude are more keen to learn and adapt to your restaurant's needs than people who've served in restaurants for years and are perhaps a bit set in their ways. 

The interview

Although it can be a mundane task, the interview round is probably the most important stage in the hiring process. It's tempting to pick out a few of the best CVs and go straight to trials, but interviews give you a chance to really get a sense of whether a person's personality is a good fit with the rest of the business.

So what are some things to look out for during interviews? Things like body language, whether or not the person smiles a lot and doesn't interrupt you are good indicators of a positive attitude.

You also want to ask the right questions. When you're interviewing, don't just ask about past experiences, but also include a few questions that will give you an idea of their personality. Also make very sure that the interviewee has the right expectations of the job.

Here are a few questions you can use during interviews:

  • Why do you want to work here?
  • Why did you leave your last job?
  • What do you think is most important when dealing with customers?
  • How do you cope with stressful situations?
  • What would you do if you got 30 minutes of downtime?
  • What kind of work environment do you shine in?
  • What are your strengths? What are your weaknesses?
  • What's your own favorite restaurant?
  • What do you like about the industry?
  • What is something you didn't like about your last job?
  • What are your expectations of this position?

After hiring, invest in your staff

Happiness within the work place, for the most part, doesn't lay in the actual job duties, but in things like atmosphere, team culture, and whether or not the employee feels like there's a sense of purpose in what they're doing. People have certain things they want to get out of a restaurant job. If you set up a good environment, you're more likely to retain quality staff.

So first things first, train your staff from day one. Obviously you want to show new staff members where everything is, how appliances work, and so forth. This is something that can be easily done by buddying them up with a senior staff member, which will also help build team culture.

But next to the general duties, you may also share the restaurant's vision with your new team member and let them be a part of it. Inspiring, engaging and challenging your staff, especially millennials, will get far better results than simply managing them. Create opportunities for your staff. Ask for their input and let them execute their own ideas. Another great way to create opportunity for staff members while reducing turnover is to hire from within for higher positions. Give your staff the opportunity to grow, and they will thank you for it.

If someone enjoys and feels challenged in their job, there's a far greater chance they'll stay. At the end of the day, hiring someone is as much about finding a person that suits your needs as it is offering an environment that suits theirs. If you can manage to achieve both, then that's a winning match. 


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