Restaurant Workers Can’t Be Replaced by Technology — But They Can Be Recruited

Restaurant Workers Can’t Be Replaced by Technology — But They Can Be Recruited

The National Restaurant Association recently published a table listing the top concerns for restaurants over a three-year period.

Not surprising, as it has been reported on consistently, recruiting employees is the top concern for restaurants in fall of 2021, after Coronavirus shook up our economies and our definitions of success. Coronavirus did take first place as a concern in 2020, when the pandemic was front and center and still shutting down or modifying dine-in practices. Surprising? Recruiting employees was the top concern in 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic rocked the restaurant world.

Much like technology has improved consumer engagement with restaurants through digital channels, it must also be utilized to support employee engagement. Let's break down the various steps where restaurant technology can dramatically improve would-be employees' experience.

How to Attract the right people for your culture

Being clear on who you are as a restaurant, your identity, and the core values that permeate through your operation are critical starting points. Knowing who you are gives you the foundation to talk to your potential new team members about more than just a job. Employees today want to work for a company whose values resonate with them, whose culture speaks to them, and whose team they are excited to be a part of. Meeting these criteria, above and beyond a paycheck, keeps workers excited about their job. Once you're clear about who you are, create content to celebrate your core values — use videos, use pictures, use interviews and record why your team loves working for you, in your culture. These celebrations are more attractive to candidates than a mere job description. This kind of content also plays well in the digital spaces your candidates inhabit. Which leads us to...

1. Advertise where your candidates are

In moments like this, where the competition for great talent is so tough, relying on your prospective candidates finding you on increasingly busy job boards is a shot in the dark strategy. Much like it would be if you only listed your restaurant on Yelp or Google Maps and relied on your customers to find out about you. Restaurants today just can't ask customers — or employees — to do the manual research themselves. And just as your marketing team supports your voice to the customer, the 'voice to the prospect' also needs the support of your marketing team. This means advertising your vacant roles on platforms like TikTok, Instagram, or LinkedIn: the places your candidates already are.

Using LinkedIn for recruitment is easy as it provides an easy-apply feature that lets applicants apply with just a click.

2. Make It Easy

So you've hooked a candidate's interest. The next step is to make sure it's as easy to apply. Paper applications should be left in the 20th century, and for good reason. Remember, your candidates are also digitally-native consumers of mobile apps and social media. The frictionless experiences they enjoy as consumers are the experience they've come to expect in every facet of their lives. Be creative and really ask yourself - what is most important to receive in the application beyond contact details? McDonalds Australia launched Snapplications that enables Snapchatters to apply for jobs 'in a snap'. In Australia, McDonalds hires 30,000 youths a year, making them the largest youth employer in the country. In ten seconds or less, the applicant answers why they would make a good team member and be proud to work for the famous Golden Arched company. Simple—and quick.

3. Make It Fast

Speed of hiring is also an important aspect of recruitment, where technology can play a role. As with applications, for every extra day a hiring process takes, the greater the chance that the candidate will be increasingly anxious to start earning and/or be approached and employed by someone else. Video interviewing is a great way for managers to not let schedules of both manager and candidate alike to stop the recruitment process. By recording video questions from a manager and prompting candidates to answer questions on their own time allows a different kind of interview experience that takes the pressure off the candidate. The hiring manager also wins: those candidates that really want the opportunity take the few minutes to record a video. Those who don't, won't.

Even better? Those candidates that “ghost” your brand and fail to show up for interviews will no longer take precious time from the hiring manager's calendar. In a matter of minutes, managers can determine if the candidate is the right fit for their team by assessing their behavioral questions and examples of competence as required. Once green lighted, linking the application to an ATS (Applicant Tracking System) keeps administration and payroll set up all connected, saving further paper forms and delays to getting the new team member started. “Onboarding” paperwork can often create delays between hiring and starting that cause an applicant to go elsewhere.

4. Make schedules flexible

One of the most critical elements that an employee wants to understand about their future employer is - will they give me the flexibility to work on my terms? That is a tough question for some employers to stomach - and phrases like 'back in my day' are often uttered. But today's restaurant worker demands flexible schedules, and those offering it are more likely to be rewarded with applicants and employees with longer tenure. That means using restaurant scheduling software that makes creating effective employee schedules (like 7shifts) is important to set schedules and adjust as needed.

Just as we have found with consumer engagement, restaurants must use technology to address improvements to their labor recruitment processes, making it easier for candidates and managers alike. Every step of the recruitment cycle can now be improved through using cost-effective tools and help give you a leg up on the competition in recruiter the right people for your team, at the right speed and set them and you up for longer-term success

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Carl Orsbourn & Meredith Sandland
Carl Orsbourn & Meredith Sandland

Meredith & Carl ran big chains (Taco Bell & ampm) before scaling Kitchen United across the US. As best-selling authors & advisors, they are considered industry thought-leaders on the future of food.