Why Restaurants Need to Rethink the Hiring Process

Jul 8, 2021Employers & Hiring Managers, News, Tips0 comments

With capacity regulations lifted, restaurants were hoping to get back to where they were pre-pandemic.  Unfortunately, where there were once limitations imposed by government, limitations are now based on the number of Back of House (BOH) and Front of House (FOH) staff available for a given shift.  Many restaurants are still unable to reopen beyond weekends because of staff shortages.

In the US, the National Restaurant Association has reported the eating and drinking industry shed 2.5 million jobs in 2020. Federal data shows that despite being reopened for business, there are nearly 1.4 million job openings to fill  in the restaurant and hotel sector in May 2021. 

Restauranteurs are quick to say that it is challenging to find workers – and have had to significantly raise wages from $7.25 an hour. According to the U.S. Labor Department, wages at drinking and eating establishments have more than doubled to $16.28 an hour. Canada is experiencing similar increases. 

True, some people have left the industry forever – tired of long or unstable hours – and having to deal with cranky customers. And maybe some are staying home because there are still rich unemployment benefits.


The Burden of Applying for Jobs

Restaurant industry tracker Black Box Intelligence asked 360 restaurant operators their best recruiting channels: Employee referrals topped the list of sources (49%), followed by company websites/job boards (32%), social media was a distant (11%), walk-ins were 5% – with other being 3% – including hiring parties. Operators are struggling to connect with job seeking candidates.

While employers are getting creative with compensation – increased pay, benefits, even signing bonuses from referring employees – little has been done to look at the job application process and candidate journey. Undoubtedly, there are job seekers looking for work – but struggling to navigate the labyrinth of job postings. 

Job hunters are still expected to browse through listings that are both arcane and time-consuming. In fact, it’s easier in terms of number of clicks to find a 2-bedroom apartment in Machu Pichu than it is to find what jobs are available within a mile from a given location. 

Employers expect candidates to go to their corporate website, wait for their memory-intensive site to load – on a mobile phone no less! – hunt for the careers section, figure out which location is closest to their home, identify available jobs, register, and then fill out an application – including prior experience.

In fact, we looked at several sites and couldn’t believe the gymnastics applicants were expected to go through. Just to figure out which location would be near a given address, we had to locate on a map, note the address and then put it into the corporate finder. 

If it takes a person thirty minute to apply for a FOH or BOH role – frankly, it’s a burden and application conversions suffer.


From Miserable Experience to Engaging

It’s clear the frontline application process has been built by people who are more familiar with full-time permanent roles, not high volume staffing like restaurants. Unfortunately that’s not how a lot of these types of employees are looking for work. They tend to skew younger – and older. They often are looking for flexible hours around day care, another job, school. So they might want 15 hours here and 10 hours there – just to make ends meet. 

So the question is, is it hard to get people to work for you – or is it hard for them to apply? 

Applying to a $15 an hour job should not be more than a few clicks. It needs to be inviting and straightforward. And today’s digital natives want it to be video – click, record, submit. Simple. They can bang out 10 applications in the time it took to do one. 

Frankly, for a people-facing job, video should be more important than what’s in an application. Afterall, the person has a pleasant disposition – or doesn’t. 

And certainly, they will have a better disposition if you don’t put them through the wringer just to apply for a job. This is one critical variable that is well within a restaurant’s control.