Innovative Ways Restaurants are Attracting Labor in a Growing Economy

A strong economy and low unemployment are great for potential job seekers. However, there’s a flip side to a robust economy. For restaurant owners, this environment can make it challenging to find labor. As large companies such as Amazon, Walmart, and Target raise wages to retain and attract workers, restaurants must compete in a shrinking talent pool. This is especially true for finding younger seasonal workers to cover busy months in the restaurant industry. Despite these trends, restaurant managers shouldn’t feel like their employment options are in limbo. In fact, there are several creative steps restaurants can take to ensure their employment needs are met.

Revamp Your Hiring Process—Recruiting takes a more personal touch in a thriving labor market. Many innovative restaurant owners are using software to connect to potential hires. This technology allows the owner to send personalized text messages, often including coupons from the establishment, to entice perspective employees. In some situations, coupons can only go so far and hiring the worker you want requires even greater incentives. Some restaurants are handing out hiring bonuses of $500-$1,000 in hopes of capturing more experienced restaurant workers. Other establishments are offering to pay the culinary tuition of their chefs to retain top cooking talent.

Changing your hiring process could mean spending resources on targeted training. Some restaurants are capturing younger workers directly out of high school, offering skills courses and then a fast-track hiring process. The goal is to show young people there’s growth potential in this field before they’re lured elsewhere. But don’t exclude the older demographics just yet. As younger workers become harder to find, McDonald’s and Church’s have said senior citizens will be a target employee market in 2019. The same training process that can be applied to younger workers is applicable to an older population.  

Focus on Employee Retention—Once you’re able to attract a workforce, do what you can to retain your new staff. That means thinking about ways to accommodate a more versatile working environment. Many restauranteurs are emphasizing scheduling flexibility for their employees to make it easier for staff to manage a healthy home/work balance. For example, the White Castle hamburger chain uses an app to allow employees to swap shifts with their coworkers even at the last-minute when conflicts arise.

Other restaurants have learned that in order to retain employees you have to make them part of the decision-making process. Put otherwise, the employee should believe they have a stake in the company. To accomplish this, restaurants regularly survey their employees about a range of topics, from what they think about the company uniform to taste-testing menu items. When employees feel like they are part of the process, they are more loyal to the brand and less likely to find employment elsewhere.

Rely on Technology—Your restaurant may be tight on workers. Relying on technology may ease an overworked staff and possibly minimize the need to hire more employees. Invest in technology that can automate certain tasks like inventory management and purchase order entry, among others. Make sure you’re using a comprehensive POS, labor and scheduling system, and a reservation management tool. By depending on technology for these tasks, your staff can devote itself to making and serving great food. They’ll be happier with their working conditions and more likely to stay.

There’s no doubt the current labor market is a challenge for the restaurant industry. That doesn’t mean there aren’t innovative ways to address this issue. A little bit of creativity can help you attract talent and focus on employee retention. You’ll not only get the workforce you need but employees loyal to your restaurant!

About Restaurant Magic:
Restaurant Magic has been providing advanced software solutions to the restaurant and hospitality industry for over 20 years. The robust Data Central Management Suite, the flagship product, is a powerful and flexible application that takes advantage of the latest technology trends to offer premier processing and analytics. With advanced forecasting, predictive scheduling and mobile technologies, Data Central has something for every problem. To learn more about Restaurant Magic Software and its products, call us at 1(800) 933-4711 or visit the website at