#23: How to Find and Keep Restaurant Employees

June 30, 2021 by David Scott Peters

Finding and keeping restaurant employees is a major challenge in just about every restaurant in the United States right now. Restaurants are extremely short-staffed, which means restaurant owners are spending all their time working in the business and can’t be strategic, and restaurant managers and existing employees are overworked, and it’s all affecting the guest experience.

While this is a temporary situation, there is no perfect predictor for when it will end or how it will be different going forward. That’s why in this episode I talk about why I believe our industry is affected so much right now and what you can do moving forward to become an employer of choice in the future.

First, let’s address the challenges this is causing in restaurants and for restaurant owners.

  • Owners are still working in the business every day instead of having time to be strategic
  • Restaurants are short staffed, causing managers to be overworked and short tempered
  • Line employees are working overtime and are tired.
  • Front-of-house employees are working way more hours than they want.
  • Flexibility in scheduling, a major appeal of working in restaurants, is nonexistent right now.
  • Guests are short tempered because of long ticket times and service levels have dropped as restaurants are just trying to survive the day, so the front-of-house team and managers are getting yelled at by guests

Add all these up and you can see why a potential new hire would rather get a job at a fulfillment center where they can earn up to $17 an hour, get a signing bonus plus benefits without all the negatives of working in a restaurant.

This is all shining a bad light on the restaurant industry, but I think as an independent restaurant owner, you can do something about it. It comes down to understanding Herzberg’s Motivation-Hygiene Theory and the parts of his theory you can adopt that lead to good hires who stay with you for a long time.

There is no quick fix to this problem, but it can be fixed if each restaurant works toward becoming an employer of choice. What is an employer of choice? A restaurant where everyone wants to work there. It’s a restaurant where guests and friends ask team members if they like working there, and they go on to gush over the place.

Becoming an employer of choice should be your goal, and you need to understand it takes time because you are changing your company culture to do so.

As the leader of your business, you can’t blame outside factors for your staffing woes. Yes, depending on when you listen to this podcast, the federal government may still be giving the unemployed an extra $300 for remaining unemployed. Yes, the backbone of the industry, women in the workforce, have been stuck at home because their kids are attending school on a computer. Yes, some people are still afraid of the virus, so they remain out of the workforce. And yes, when you had to let people go because you didn’t have the sales to keep them working, they left the industry and don’t want to come back.

But do you know what? These outside factors will go away and be replaced by new ones. Finding and retaining good employees has always been a challenge in the hospitality industry. Instead of blaming the outside factors you cannot control, listen to this podcast to learn how to start taking care of the things you can control. Become an employer of choice, and you’ll never worry about finding team members again.


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