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    The Competition for Summer Staff Heats Up

  • Industry News May 20, 2016

    As American consumers prepare for summer vacations and longer, more flexible days, restaurants can ready themselves for increased traffic with seasonal hires. But as the annual Summer Hiring Survey from job search engine Snagajob, finding and retaining good workers won’t be a breeze.

    Although the survey finds that 80 percent of operators planned to have their hourly summer positions filled by May, its insights have implications for a broader shift in hiring practices.

    This year, 40 percent of employers plan to hire more workers (21 on average) than they did last year, but as the labor market tightens as a whole, operators will have to increasingly compete with other companies.

    “[It’s] great for the worker, not so great for the employer. We’re seeing employers being increasingly creative about how they try to attract people and what they’re using to attract people: offering more flexible schedules; offering more mentoring and training; offering development opportunities, some other fringe benefits,” says Snagajob CEO Peter Harrison.

    In addition to these job perks, Harrison says easier, mobile-based job applications can also give operators a leg up. Three years ago only one in 100 candidates completed their applications through a phone. Today, one in two do.

    With underemployment finally coming down to about 10 percent after being close to 18 percent three to four years ago, workers also have more reason to feel secure in their jobs. As a result, they’re more likely to leave when better opportunities present themselves. This confidence compounds high turnover rates, which already run rampant in foodservice—Snagajob estimates about 120 percent in fast casual and almost 140 percent in quick service.

    “Everybody who walks out the door is one person you have to hire,” Harrison says, estimating that just an hourly employee costs a company about $2,000 to replace. “There’s a huge premium on holding onto the people you have and doing everything you can to minimize turnover.”

    The good news for operators is the steady increase in return workers. Companies have databases of candidates that keep growing over time, with employees like college students picking up shifts during summer or winter breaks.

    Harrison says that fast casual, which represents the largest market share that Snagajob studies, could be driving some of these trends.

    “[It’s] certainly the fastest growing segment for us, and I think probably in the sector generally,” he says. “It has, to some extent, given rise to a little bit more of a commoditization of these jobs. If they’re people standing behind the counter versus serving, there isn’t as much of a requirement to the level of vetting people want in terms of customer service skills and so forth. I think that has had an impact.”


    By Nicole Duncan