8 Tips for Hiring Top-Notch Restaurant Employees

Written by
• 5 minute read
hiring restaurant employees

Hiring successful employees as a small business owner can be difficult. If you’re a restaurant owner this can be especially tricky, as the food services industry tends to have high staff turnover. However, there are a few ways you focus on hiring successful restaurant employees. Read on for some tips on how to attract top-notch hires without breaking the bank.

1. Figure Out What a Competitive Salary is for Your Local Area

Competitive pay varies widely by region in the U.S., so it’s important to do some market research to see what it is in your local region. If you can’t afford to match the top of the pay scale, don’t worry – there are other ways to attract top employees that we’ll outline below.

You should also keep in mind that many cities and states are passing higher minimum wage laws, so you may be required to offer a pay rate higher than expected in the near future.

As a restaurant owner, you’ve likely considered the value of tips for your employees. There’s been debate around tipping workers vs. discouraging tipping. For example, some restaurant owners feel like sharing tips between “front of house” and “back of house” can cause strife between employees and get complicated. In general, tipping is really a way to supplement low wages, so some restaurants have opted to pay their staff a higher base wage and discourage tipping altogether. Either way, you’ll need to have a clear tipping policy in place for your employees.

2. Ensure Safe Working Conditions

Next to offering competitive pay, making sure employees have good working conditions should be your next top priority. Working in a restaurant can be dangerous, so make sure to follow the strictest safety guidelines to protect your employees. You should also regularly service and update your equipment to ensure your employees can do their jobs effectively (and safely).

Lastly, make sure the processes for completing work duties are straightforward and easy to follow. Creating an employee checklist or handbook can be helpful here.

3. Offer Continuing Education/Career Opportunities

Offering continuing career opportunities lets your employees and potential employees know that you care about their education and that you want them to succeed. Look for ways to create opportunities for learning, growth, and personal development. Your best employees will excel knowing they have the chance to grow within and outside of the business.

You may not be able to afford to offer tuition reimbursement to all your employees. However, even putting in place a clear-cut path to promotion and advancement for your employees can be effective here. If you don’t provide opportunities for growth, those employees will go elsewhere.

4. Promote a Positive Employee Culture

Establishing a positive employee culture, or company culture, is important for morale. Strive to create a culture of excellence by setting core values that all of your employees follow. Core values can help outline what you stand for and accomplish your business goals as a restaurant owner. Develop a set of company culture guidelines and introduce them to each employee during onboarding as well as any continuous training programs you might have in place.

5. Offer Flexible Scheduling

When trying to attract top-notch employees, remember that they have lives outside of work. Make sure their schedules are not only flexible, but that they get their schedules far enough in advance so that they can plan out their home lives (i.e., figuring out childcare). In general, aim to finalize and distribute the schedule at least two weeks before the end of the current work schedule.

Additionally, many restaurants will send shift workers home on slow days. This is very problematic for workers, as they lose out on expected wages. Try to predict as accurately as possible how many workers you’ll need for each shift to avoid sending people home last minute.

6. Use the Interview Process to Find the Right People

In the restaurant industry, finding “good enough” people in a tight labor market is tough. The key to recruiting top employees is to use the interview process, as well as the other benefits discussed in this article. Use it to really get to know your candidates and check out their personality, which makes a huge difference in how well they’ll perform on the job. Look for upbeat candidates who seem like they’d be good at interacting with customers. Look for accomplishments on their resumes that might be helpful in your restaurant. Did they help decrease wait times at a previous job to increase efficiency? Did they help boost sales by 10 percent?

7. Require Regular Employee Training

By having continuous training for your employees, rather than a one-time onboarding training, you keep protocols fresh in their minds. The number one mistake in average performing restaurants is a lack of training. Come up with a training program that employees have to complete regularly to ensure they’re presenting your company’s core values at every turn.

8. Reward and Acknowledge Top Performers

Taking the time to acknowledge and reward top performers is one of the best things you can to do retain staff. When people are rewarded for doing a good job, they’re much more likely to continue doing well. So find ways to acknowledge and reward your team when the situation warrants it.

Come up with a system for rewarding your top performers and let all of your employees know about it to give others an incentive to work just as hard. Rewarding your employees can be as simple as giving them a discount or providing a free meal, or you could go as far as to offer a day off. Be creative. There are many affordable ways to show that you appreciate and value your employees.