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How to Hire Restaurant Staff: Tips To Recruit and Retain Talent

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By Tock Staff

Your guide to getting restaurant recruitment right.

Building a great team with staying power starts in the restaurant hiring process. Knowing who you’re looking for—and clearly defining available roles—can mean lower turnover and smoother day-to-day operations in the long run.

Restaurants routinely land at the top of the list of industries with the highest employee turnover rates. So, before you post a job listing, read our tips for finding exceptional restaurant employees.

1. Be realistic about how many staff members your restaurant needs to function smoothly.

Understaffing can lead to long-term difficulties with employee retention. Studies show that in 2022, 90% of restaurant employees worked overtime, double shifts, or extra shifts. And, of those employees, three-quarters said they had done so because of staffing issues.

Restaurant workers frequently list fatigue and burnout as significant factors in walking away from their jobs, so hiring enough staff to meet your restaurant’s needs is critical for keeping your most talented employees.

Before you start searching for the perfect candidates, carefully study which roles you need to fill during the restaurant hiring process. Ask existing staff where they could use more support and spend time studying day-to-day operations to discover areas where new employees might improve efficiency.

2. Conduct a job task analysis before beginning your search.

A job task analysis is a careful study of the responsibilities of each role in a restaurant. Expectations and duties can change over time, so it’s a good idea to conduct a job task analysis every time you start a new round of restaurant recruitment.

To conduct an analysis, identify the employees in your restaurant who best understand each role. For example, ask experienced servers to describe the day-to-day undertakings of their duties. From there, shadow employees to get a better feel for the most critical responsibilities of the role. Finally, distribute employee questionnaires to understand the skills most beneficial for specific roles.

3. Be specific in your job descriptions.

A recent study of QSR workers found that only 54% of employees stayed in their roles past the 90-day mark, while other studies have found a turnover rate of 173% annually in limited-service restaurants and 121% in full-service restaurants. Sometimes, those departures come from a need for more job clarity.

When you have many available roles, creating a blanket job posting calling for servers, bus people, hosts, and more can be tempting. However, listing the specific skill sets required for each position and providing a detailed description of day-to-day expectations can help attract suitable applicants during the restaurant staff hiring process.

4. Broaden your search.

Expand your job search outside standard job sites into industry-specific networking groups and newsletters. Invite potential candidates to connect with you via social media. Finally, create a careers page on your website and keep it updated with current staff vacancies.

5. Plan for seasonal upswings.

Many restaurants have busy seasons. Start planning at least six weeks ahead to fill additional roles without putting pressure on year-round employees. Post calls for seasonal employees well before you need to hire, listing clear expectations and timeframes. Put a plan in place for employee retention during high-stress, busier times of the year and offer incentives to attract the best seasonal employees.

6. Create a plan for employee training.

High turnover can significantly impact a restaurant’s operating expenses. Think of each new hire as an investment in your restaurant’s future. Before you start your employee search, create a comprehensive plan for employee training and use that plan to sell applicants on the job.

Elevate your training program by incorporating Tock Academy’s free resources, which are specifically designed to help you onboard new staff members with ease. Tock provides a variety of support for team members at each position—such as hosts, managers, and even specialized roles like event coordinators. Whether it’s mastering reservation management or creating seamless ‘to go’ experiences, Tock Academy offers targeted webinars and resources that can be accessed right from your Tock Control Panel. This commitment to employee development can set your restaurant apart, aiding in both staff retention and operational excellence.

Visit Tock’s resource center for more tips on how to open a restaurant.

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