Restaurant Staffing 101: Expert Tips and Strategies for Hiring the Best

The food service business is nearly entirely based on human capital. Your restaurant's employees are your most valuable assets, right from food preparation to servicing it. However, one of the most difficult aspects of owning a restaurant is finding and retaining the right employees. 

Restaurant staff is both an extension of a restaurant's brand and an effective restaurant management system. As a result, it is important to invest time and effort in hiring and training the right staff for your restaurant. 

This article will act as your 'Restaurant Staffing Guide,' telling you how to find, hire, and retain staff for your restaurant. 

Restaurant staffing includes everything from recruiting and retaining employees to creating daily shift schedules. Depending on the size and type of venue, staffing a restaurant can entail hiring and training a whole fleet of specialized front-of-house and back-of-house employees, or just a few key employees who play many roles.  

Why Is Staffing Restaurants So Difficult?

According to research, 30% of restaurant owners and managers think staffing is the most difficult part of their business, ranking above accounting, inventory, and marketing. So, what makes staffing so complicated? The following factors contribute to this challenge: 

  1. High turnover: On average, restaurants must replace up to three out of every four staff members each year. Unfortunately, replacing just one employee costs restaurants over $6,000 in productivity loss and hiring costs. 
  2. Labor shortage: The pandemic resulted in a global labor shortage, with the restaurant industry being hit particularly hard. With many workers leaving the business in search of new opportunities and higher pay, restaurants continue to struggle to find skilled people in an industry with a decreasing labor pool.  
  3. High labor costs: Paying employees is one of the most expensive aspects of running a restaurant. Labor costs account for 31.6% of a restaurant's operational costs on average. Increasing wages and worker demands will increase labor costs, making it even more important to retain staff and create the perfect shift schedule.
  4. Low profit margins: The restaurant industry's profit margins are typically low: 10.6% on average. Without a lot of wiggle room, it's tough for restaurants to pay their employees more to keep them satisfied. 
  5. Demanding regulations: Labor laws protect workers, but they also complicate staffing. While hiring staff members and creating schedules, operators must keep things like breaks, tipped and untipped wages, overtime, and other rules in mind. 

8 Restaurant Staff Hiring Tips

You are aware of the current condition of restaurant staffing and are mindful of the challenges that you will likely face. Now, we'll go over eight of the greatest ways to hire staff for restaurants. These strategies might help you find the right people and keep them happy in your restaurant for years to come.  

1. Develop a Specific Job Description

First and foremost, be specific in your job description. Vague job descriptions attract unqualified candidates.

Include details about the role and use flowery language to entice candidates to apply. Candidates who are willing to go the extra mile will be attracted.

2. Define Success in the Job Posting  

Before you finalize your job description, ensure you've articulated what success means to your restaurant and for that specific role. Inform applicants how their performance will be evaluated. 

Will you be looking at sales figures? Tables served? Drinks designed for bartenders? Chefs' meals? Employees will be able to work towards success more easily if they understand what it entails.  

3. Identify the right employees 

With so much hiring done online, it may be tempting to spread your job advertisement all over the place. Instead, narrow your search to networks that will provide you with high-quality candidates.   

4. Conduct screening Interviews    

After receiving job applications and before bringing in the top applicants for interviews, it's vital to do short, preliminary phone interviews. These screener calls will help you ensure that the person who applied knows what they're talking about. Use these calls to cut down your list of candidates even further.  

5. Do More Than Just Ask Questions  

Invite the top prospects to another interview at your restaurant. However, don't only ask questions. Make candidates complete challenges, participate in role-playing scenarios, and shadow your top employees instead. These tests will show you what these potential employees are capable of.

6. Contact References  

After choosing the finest candidate for the job, contact their references to ensure that the person you wish to hire is trustworthy. Candidates will not volunteer their flaws, so you will have to question references about them. In order to understand how that individual will react under pressure, inquire about how they handle challenges.   

7. Make the Offer  

When you've narrowed down your choices, inform your favorite candidate that you want to hire them. After making an offer, be ready to bargain.  

8. Set New Employees Up for Success  

When your new hire arrives for their first day of work, prepare them for success by providing thorough job training and shadowing. With proper preparation, they’ll be equipped to do a great job and will therefore be more likely to stick around for the long haul.

8 Tips for Managing and Retaining Staff

Don't forget that retaining excellent staff members is just as crucial as employing them. Here are some pointers to help you effectively manage and retain your restaurant staff:  

1) Provide competitive pay

To combat high turnover rates, provide competitive remuneration that meets or surpasses industry standards. This attracts high-quality employees and encourages them to stay, eliminating the need for regular hiring and training.  

2) Implement fair and flexible scheduling

Flexible schedules provide employees with some control over their work hours, suiting their needs and preferences while guaranteeing a balanced workload. This can reduce burnout, boost job satisfaction, and decrease turnover.   

According to a recent National Restaurant Association survey, businesses that provide flexible scheduling had a 25% greater employee retention rate than those who do not. 

3) Encourage work-life balance by taking regular breaks

Providing regular days off and vacation time helps to minimize burnout and shows the staff that you care about their well-being and personal time. You should accommodate time-off requests and recognize the significance of work-life balance. For example, you can create a rotating calendar for holidays and weekends so that everyone has time off during peak periods.  

4) Invest in staff professional development

Investing in your employees' growth as professionals increases their talents and increases their loyalty to your restaurant. You can provide specialized training programs and encourage participation in workshops and industry events. You can also build up a mentorship program where experienced workers can guide less experienced team members. 

5) Reward good performance

Recognizing and rewarding good performance inspires staff and promotes a happy work atmosphere. You can distribute bonuses, recognize employees publicly, or launch an employee-of-the-month program. Personalize awards so that they are more meaningful to each employee.

6) Build an open communication culture

Create an open communication culture by providing constructive comments regularly and encouraging employees to share ideas and concerns. Implementing their suggestions enhances the workplace and shows that you value their feedback.    

7) Embrace technology

Incorporating technology into your restaurant's operations can increase efficiency and staff satisfaction while decreasing workload. These tools may include:  

  1. Staff scheduling software allows you to create and manage work schedules.   
  2. Tabletop tablets for in-seat queries and orders.  
  3. Inventory management software for stock tracking and menu modifications.  
  4. Apps for online table booking. 
  5. Employee skills training software.   
  6. Point-of-sale (POS) software that supports several payment methods and offsite events. 
  7. Tools for collecting diner feedback.  
  8. Apps for dynamic menu changes and customer engagement.  
  9. Payroll management software simplifies employee remuneration and financial data. 

8) Optimize Your Restaurant Staff for Success

Staffing is critical for the restaurant business, as it ensures quality service, financial stability, and employee satisfaction.    

Understand the FoH and BoH positions and examine your restaurant's demands to establish your personnel needs. Then, attract individuals via multiple channels and pick those with the right skills. Make sure to provide competitive salaries, fair scheduling, and employee perks. 


Wrapping Up: Guide to Restaurant Staffing

Hiring and retaining employees is one of the most difficult tasks a restaurateur will undertake. The past few years have been one of the most difficult for staff due to high wages, high turnover, and a labor shortage. 

However, you may overcome staffing issues if you define success, provide a detailed job description, and hire strategically.