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    Restaurant Hiring | 7 min read

    How Culture Can Help Your Restaurant’s Hiring Crisis

    We’ve heard of the term company culture and how prospective employees consider this as one of the most important factors when looking for a job. In fact, in a survey conducted by Jobvite, 37% of workers find culture to be very important to them. But what exactly is company culture and how does it affect your hiring?

    Company culture refers to the shared ethos of an organization. In other words, it defines how employees act based on the shared values, goals, attitudes, and practices of the company. And you can guess why this is so important to employees. Think about it - would you rather work for a company whose values you personally believe in or one that possesses values that are not aligned with your own. Definitely the former, right? As we move into a world that co-exists with COVID-19, how important is company culture when it comes to staffing your restaurant?

    When the pandemic hit the world in early 2020, the country was placed in lockdown to curb the spread of the virus. Restaurants and the like had to close down their stores temporarily (or permanently) as there was no business for them in such a climate. Now that the situation has improved and the economy seems to be picking up, these same restaurant owners are faced with a new problem - staffing their restaurant. According to a Census poll in April, it was found that 40% of restaurant companies were having difficulty finding staff as compared to just 5% of finance and insurance businesses, which had the option of working remotely. Evidently, this staffing problem probably arose due to the limitations that come with working in a restaurant.

    So how can restaurant managers overcome this crisis? Culture, as we know it, is undoubtedly crucial when it comes to hiring. In this article, we discuss some of the hiring challenges faced by restaurants in today’s situation and how important company culture is in improving their staffing crisis. 

    Hiring Challenges 

    Fears of COVID-19

    In an industry where positions are mostly high-contact, many are not ready to go back to work. And this is the case for the restaurant industry where one will be interacting with hundreds of customers and third-party vendors just in a day. Due to these feelings of uncertainty, hiring managers are not able to find workers who are willing to work the shift for their restaurant. And this is understandably so. Individuals fear contracting COVID-19 or spreading the virus to their loved ones when they get back home. Even if it is to work in the back of house, there is a higher possibility of coming into contact with a positively tested COVID-19 individual as compared to just staying at home. After all, the virus is highly contagious, to say the least.

    Family Responsibilities

    Needless to say, the inability to work remotely in the industry has considerable impacts on the decision of individuals to work in a restaurant. Those with family responsibilities may have unresolved elderly or childcare issues that hinder them from leaving their house to work. Even if they want to work for the restaurant, it is unfortunately not within their capabilities to do so.

    Unemployment Benefits

    After President Biden introduced the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, many believed that this impacted the recruiting space for the restaurant industry negatively. The plan, which provides a $300 weekly aid for the unemployed up till September 6, may arguably pay more than actually working itself and may be the reason why employees choose not to go back to work. This is especially so in the restaurant industry where wages are still perceived as low. About 76% of workers surveyed by One Fair Wage said that they are leaving the industry due to low wages and tips.

    Amidst the pandemic, the unemployment benefits provided by the government will likely discourage individuals from taking up jobs in the restaurant industry. After all, why slog through shifts when the benefits give you more time to search for a better job?  

    The problems listed above are not exhaustive but they are the more common challenges hiring managers face in the current climate. While some are persisting problems that existed even before COVID-19 existed, the pandemic has surely brought about another wave of issues to the hiring crisis. Some companies have already recognized these problems and are making changes in the way they hire and what they have to offer, all to attract more talent to their organization. 

    At the end of the day, your company culture is the determinant that will set these changes in motion. Read on to find out why culture is an essential part of hiring and how you can cultivate an inviting culture in your company.

    Why is Company Culture Important?

    Job Satisfaction 

    Naturally, those who are able to identify with their company are happier and tend to be more satisfied with their job. As such, they will show more loyalty to their company and are more likely to stay on the job for a longer period. With greater loyalty, employees are also more committed to their work as they feel that they are a part of a bigger cause. More importantly, as employees feel satisfied, turnover rates are kept at the minimum, which will ultimately reduce your company’s hiring costs.

    Talent Attraction

    Aside from reaping the benefits your employees’ job satisfaction can bring, you are also building a reputation for your organization when you establish a particular culture within your company. The culture your company upholds determines the course of action it will take in times of crisis. For example, what did your organization do during the COVID-19 pandemic? Did they take appropriate measures to ensure that their employees are well protected? Your company culture is defined by the actions taken by the management team. It is not merely about the values you claim you uphold anymore.

    Needless to say, a company that puts its employees first will have a good reputation among candidates. In the current pandemic climate today, such qualities of a company are especially prioritized by many job seekers. They want to know that their company will have their backs when the going gets tough. Of course, this makes the job more attractive, making hiring less of a headache for your recruitment team.

    Cultivating a Good Culture 

    We now know the importance of company culture when it comes to hiring for your restaurant. The question is - how do you cultivate a culture that’s good enough to improve your hiring capabilities? In light of the pandemic, here are some ways you can consider to make sure that your company is on the right track:

    1. Setting the Right Standards

    Though the hiring pool may be much smaller now, this does not mean that you should settle for just anyone willing to work for your company. Ensure that your candidates are a good fit by asking them cultural fit questions during their interview. Hiring an employee who is a misfit may actually cost you more in the long run as you are unlikely to retain them for a long time, leading to extra costs incurred to hire a replacement.

    2. Providing Enough Perks

    In the restaurant industry, free meals and employee discounts are so commonplace that they can no longer be considered as perks but a basic requirement. While the COVID-19 virus is still within our midst, healthcare benefits are probably something that your prospective employees will appreciate. Aside from that, there are also other things you can invest in to show that your company culture is all about appreciation for its employees. 

    Chick-fil-A, for example, provides a plethora of benefits for their employees to increase retention and employee engagement. Some of these include health insurance and performance-based bonuses. They also make it a point to help their employees grow professionally by providing career planning and leadership programs, and give credit when it’s due by implementing recognition schemes to identify exceptional team members. 

    3. Implementing Practices that Align with Your Values

    As aforementioned, company values are guidelines that shape the culture in your organization. However, merely stating these rules of conduct on your website does not mean that your team embodies them. The strategies you implement during moments of adversity will clearly demonstrate the values your company upholds. 

    One of the most important values you want to instill in your organization is empathy. As we transition into a post-COVID world, empathy must extend to your employees and not just your customers. According to Business Solver, 92% of employees stated that having empathetic leaders will make them more likely to stay with their jobs. In other words, having an upper management team that understands them better and translating it to an implementation that provides them a better work environment is likely to increase employee retention. 

    So, how do you do this? Consider implementing a two-way communication platform between the employees and management teams so that ideas can bounce off both parties. Alternatively, you can establish an anonymous feedback channel to receive unfiltered views from employees about the company. By doing this, you are letting your employees know that you are making it a point to understand their position a little better.

    In this pandemic, having empathy entrenched in your company’s culture will improve your hiring capabilities. By addressing the concerns of the working population such as job security and protective measures during these troubling times, individuals will be more encouraged to apply for jobs at your restaurant.

    Summing Up

    The pandemic has given rise to many problems in the restaurant industry. Initially having to lay off people due to the slow business, managers are now struggling to find workers to equip their restaurant as the economy picks up. Though the current situation might seem bleak for the industry, cultivating a good culture within the organization can help solve your hiring problem. Ensure that you are not shortchanging your current and future workers and make the effort to understand their problems. Most importantly, live up to the values your company upholds. After all, actions speak louder than words so, walk the talk.

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    Zakiyah Hanani

    Zakiyah is a freelance content writer. She’s a lifelong learner, looking for opportunities to expand her horizons whenever she can. She loves traveling, playing volleyball and reading up on general developments in the industry.

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