How successful brands improve screening, interviewing, and training to reduce employee turnover.
Of all the challenges faced by operators, interviewing and hiring new employees is one of the biggest headaches. In 2017, TDn2K’s People Report showed voluntary turnover across the restaurant industry had reached 70 percent—a 10-year high—and Italian brands have been no exception. Although rates have stabilized over the past few years and high employment rates mean staff will be more conservative about trying to change jobs, maintaining a consistent, skilled, and reliable staff continues to be one of the biggest priorities for restaurateurs in all segments.
The reasons that restaurant employees leave a job, often without notice, are plentiful and varied—from seasonal factors and pay rates to internal conflicts. And although many operators are resigned to accept this fact and deal with scheduling snafus as necessary, there are a lot of solutions available to mitigate personnel loss.
The most important step in dealing with abrupt and frequent turnover is preparing ahead of time and responding quickly in order to fill vacancies. By implementing certain software and services into their restaurant management system, operators can more quickly identify qualified candidates to fill empty spots on their team, including waitstaff, hosts, bartenders, line cooks, dishwashers, and managers.
Before an operator invites candidates for interviews, it is critical to first identify—and when possible recruit—the best possible talent. Many restaurateurs struggle with knowing how to best market an open position, and how to cull less-qualified applicants from the interview pool. Ensuring that only the best people make it to the interview stage relies on an efficient application and screening process.
“Because the labor market has gotten smaller, it’s more difficult to source great candidates,” says Rob Hunter, CEO of HigherMe, a company that uses technology to improve the hiring process for restaurant employees and managers. “Many employers think that sourcing talent and the way that applicants apply for certain jobs are unrelated. However, we’ve found that the ease with which someone can apply to a job heavily contributes to whether a candidate actually completes the application.”
For example, many operators continue to provide lengthy application documents—both paper and digital—which are often cumbersome for applicants to complete. And while many restaurant leaders believe the best applicants won’t be deterred by difficult applications, Hunter says it’s actually the best candidates who are less willing to “put up with that friction” because they recognize they will have other options in the market due to their talent.
Applicant tracking systems, such as the service offered by HigherMe, streamline application processing for managers while simplifying requirements for applicants. With older systems, potential employees would often start applications but don’t never finish them. Newer platforms boost completion rates, according to Hunter.
“The application completion rate averages about 25 percent with older systems,” he says. “With HigherMe, application completion is close to 75 percent.”
In addition, newer systems allow operators to ask applicants more relevant and nuanced questions, keeping candidates engaged with the process and providing operators with information that speaks better to an applicant’s skills than a list of past job experiences. By simplifying application processes for prospective candidates, operators can attract better employees. Eliminating friction for both applicants and the managers who make hiring decisions not only improves efficiency restaurant-wide, but also ensures that by the time candidates are called for an interview, they are among the best prospective team members available.