Restaurants continue to suffer from a lack of available staff. All over the country, restaurants are limiting their hours or even closing completely. While the expiration of extra pandemic-related unemployment benefits may help encourage more people to reenter the workforce, employers are finding that many people don’t want to return to or enter the service industry—instead, they are retraining for more skilled or remote-work friendly positions.
It’s clear that to survive, restaurants have to change up their recruiting tactics to make positions more attractive.
Landed works with hundreds of U.S. restaurants and retailers, helping them find, attract and retain the best talent. As of this writing, Landed had nearly 30,000 open positions listed on its platform. Through talking with employers and candidates, we’ve identified several factors that are helping fill positions right now:
Hiring, retention and referral bonuses. Landed recently analyzed data on 27,000 positions, and found that cold outreach messages to candidates that offer cash sign-on or retention bonuses achieve 3X higher engagement than those that don’t (40 percent response rate versus 13 percent). The most effective approach overall? Combining sign-on, retention and referral bonuses, which drive a high volume of initial hires—2.2X more. Over half of the candidates hired via the Landed app qualified for 30-day retention bonuses. With average restaurant turnover hovering at over 130 percent, and most turnover occurring within the first 30 days of hire, this demonstrates that retention bonuses work.
Getting back to candidates quickly. In this job market, candidates have multiple opportunities, and getting back to candidates quickly—within hours—is critical. Employers who delay responding by even one day can find themselves out of the running. Consider automating your top-of-funnel recruiting activity, using software to screen candidates and then schedule and confirm interviews. A good rule of thumb especially for entry-level hourly roles is to schedule candidates in for an interview to occur within 24–48 hours from when they confirm interest in a role at your company—whether that be a fill-out application or inbound communication. These interviews can be phone, video, or in-person but try to pare down your interview process so entry-level candidates can be hired on the spot. Companies who do this report that they are able to hire a higher number of high-quality candidates more quickly.
Providing work schedule flexibility. In July 2021, Landed conducted a survey of job candidates to find what they most valued in an employer. A whopping 79 percent said they wanted the flexibility to choose their own days and hours, something employers are increasingly willing to do. Emphasizing this fact in your job postings and during interviews could help attract more candidates.
Demonstrating a commitment to diversity and inclusiveness. This also ranked highly in the Landed survey. Candidates want to see that:
- The company handles diversity matters appropriately with a commitment to celebrating employee differences.
- There is a career development path for every employee at the company.
- Leadership encourages diversity and creates a safe space to discuss racism issues in the workplace.
While this is harder to convey in a job listing, consider going beyond your existing diversity, equity, and inclusion boilerplate language to include more sincere and thoughtful prose about your inclusiveness initiatives—even borrowing some of the language above. In the same Landed July 2021 survey, the majority of candidates said they prefer a more team-based, collaborative workplace setting rather than an independent, self-work setting. Encouraging hiring managers to speak to your company’s commitment to diversity, inclusiveness, and team-based collaboration when interviewing candidates could go a long way.
Restaurants who follow these principles are seeing the results in their candidate pipelines—not only attracting higher numbers of candidates, but also higher-quality candidates who tend to stay longer. This means restaurant owners and managers can spend less time recruiting, and more time on operations, customer satisfaction and keeping existing employees happy and motivated.
Vivian Wang is the founder and CEO of Landed (gotlanded.com). She and the Landed team are building the fastest way for the 90M hourly workers in the US to land jobs at essential food & retail businesses like Wendy's, Taco Bell, Grocery Outlet & more with video. After graduating from Princeton University’s School of Public and International Affairs, Vivian worked in roles ranging from advising European central banks on financial markets strategy at BlackRock and launching the Asia & EMEA markets at real estate tech company, Matterport (NASDAQ: MTTR), to leading special projects for the C-suite at Gap, Inc., owner of Gap, Old Navy, Banana Republic, Athleta, and Intermix.