How Restaurants Can Develop a Recession-Proof Recruitment Strategy

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The hustle culture of 'working no matter the cost' is a dying stigma, and staff need to know that setting boundaries isn’t a luxury but a necessity.

It’s never been harder to hire and retain employees, leaving companies wondering how to attract candidates quickly in such a mismatched market.

Fierce competition means fast-casual restaurants must stay staffed at capacity and establish a pipeline that acts as a safety net—steadily streaming your job candidates. Retention can only be solved by keeping the top of funnel filled with candidates, but the way to thrive is by creating an overflowing pipeline relative to your competitors.

This includes understanding what is top of mind this year: how can quick-service restaurant industries develop a recession-proof recruitment strategy? As a result of the economic downturn, it’s never been harder to hire and retain employees, leaving companies wondering how to attract candidates quickly in such a mismatched market.

Organizations are looking for new ways to address inflation by understanding how much it really costs to hire each fast causal worker based on the latest stats. And what are the best ways to boost employee satisfaction to improve retention? Let alone, when your company sees a sudden spike in turnover—what should be analyzed first?

The answers to these questions will help you build better hiring and retention processes.

Invest in your pipeline

A pipeline is very important insofar as it is always available to you. In a tight and fluctuating labor market such as we have this year, you tap into your pipeline to leverage flexibility in your recruitment initiatives. This allows you to be strategic in your candidate relationship management by ensuring that talent is at your fingertips. But it is equally vital to invest and check your metrics so that you’re not overinvesting in populating your pipeline. That said, be aware that if you stop investing and allow your pipeline to dry up, it’s incredibly difficult to replenish on a dime when you’re ready to scale hiring.

Secondly, many hiring managers hire job boards to fill their pipeline—but the reality of the matter is, these enterprise companies are too large to develop a relationship with you; they only operate on a transactional basis.

If you miss a candidate in the pipeline, they’ll submit it to your competitor. Instead, consider ensuring that you find relational companies that listen to and support your needs. Also, invest in a personal pipeline—one that doesn’t bleed into your competition and remains in your pipeline pool alone.

Analyze and make data-backed decisions

Recruiting is a relationship-oriented science, making it far more humanized. But look at recruiting through a data lens; dig into the metrics to take more of a quantitative approach to transform a recruiting function and become more effective when there is budget pressure leading into a recession.  

In many cases, data tells all. The greatest leverage it allows is for you to “catch the fish where the fish are” particularly when looking for fast casual workers.

Not only will you find those who already exist in fast food service, but you will also attract people into that field. These talent analytics are key identifying factors when understanding where to advertise your jobs in addition to geo marketing. Then, allow your sales team to use that data to infer who they should target based on these analytics.

After determining who to target, focus on leveraging key words for ideal candidates to find your open positions. Ultimately, job titles are what turn heads and spark intrigue, landing that initial click for candidates to read your description. But how can you buy their attention long enough to get them to read the first page and decide if you’re a good fit? Utilize smart bob titles.

These are groundbreaking in the talent marketplace, allowing you to use recruitment analytics to check your job’s reach along with the best-performing job titles and descriptions. You also have the power to track your job posting progress, edit the description and manage its budget. These titles give you the ability to vet and select candidates from the beginning and ensure you reach top talent fast.

Determine the Cost of Vacancy versus Cost of Hiring

When short-staffed and under stress, hiring for fast casual can come at a high price—let’s break down the costs.

To better understand ROI when hiring and determining salary, compare these 3 metrics:

Cost of vacancy

While it varies by industry, the cost of vacancy (COV) can be estimated by dividing company revenue per employee by number of annual workdays. This gives you the average revenue produced by an employee daily.

Just note that it’s difficult to measure the negative impact open roles have on productivity. It adds to burnout by disintegrating team morale, which makes it even harder to tie a monetary value to these metrics.

Cost of a bad hire

The U.S. Department of Labor puts the cost of a bad hire at up to 30 percent of the employee’s first year wages. That means, if you hire an employee, such as a fast casual manager, for $70,000 a year, the employer expense could be as high as $21,000. These factors include lost productivity and damage to your reputation as a quality care provider.

Cost to hire

According to the Brandon Hall Group“the average cost to hire an essential worker is $340, and for organizations with 1,000 employees or less, the cost is $670.”

How to gain and retain fast-casual workers

When you see a sudden spike in turnover at one or more of your restaurant locations, you need to know what to analyze in order to address retention. Start with collecting surveys and documentation for reasons as to why people have left.

If you begin there, you’ll start seeing the overarching patterns and pain points among your employees. Then you’ll be able to diagnose not only the work, but your work culture. There could be a department or manager pattern, etc. – but from then on, it’s up to you to decide how you’d like to solve the problem. That may be through policy, support or other actions that can help you turn the ship in the right direction.

Be as transparent as possible about your environment, pay, and how you’re different. One strategy is to create “battle cards” to show how your fast casual products stand against your competitors and your unique value proposition. Create these to showcase your brand and what you have to offer.

In addition, pay and flexibility tend to be at the forefront of the modern worker’s mind, so make sure to advertise these policies as well as a glimpse inside your organization.

Lastly, be transparent about base salaries. For fast casual jobs, you need to target ambitious candidates who are willing to work on their feet. Showing them what they could earn if they challenge themselves to excel is often a huge motivator for these employees, particularly in a recession.

Think of what your ideal candidate would be motivated or challenged by in your position and ADVERTISE it.

Applicants want to discover what the average employee in their position takes home at your restaurant as well as the highest earner. Put “easter eggs” in your job ad that indicate the type of salary, culture, and healthy competition they will experience in order to exceed their goals. The worst thing you can do is come across stale or stagnant, this will only repel candidates or disinterest those with a vision for lead growth.

Show up for your candidates and employees

Consider necessary culture shifts. For years, workers have been led to disregard self-care for work. Insisting upon work that disregards your candidates’ values, time, and needs not only damages employee morale, but damages the success of your restaurant. The hustle culture of “working no matter the cost” is a dying stigma and staff need to know that setting boundaries isn’t a luxury but a necessity. Not doing so will negatively impact retention and career trajectories by creating a “pull the lever” culture.

This type of culture hyper focuses on patching holes in the business rather than relying on innovation to build the business. Thus, it’s vital that your fast casual employees feel supported and have the freedom to voice their concerns—because the days of hustle culture are behind us. Show job applicants that your quick-service restaurant embraces individuality and growth because no job is worth sacrificing your well-being.

Published By: QSR

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