7 Ideas for Attracting and Retaining Employees in a Post-COVID-19 World
Published August 18th, 2021
The global COVID-19 pandemic hit the restaurant industry and recruitment hard. Since the beginning of the pandemic, restaurants have had to contend with shutdowns, daily changes to rules and restrictions, irate customers, and supply chain worries. The pandemic hasn’t only affected the recruiting and retention of owners and operators of restaurants, it has also severely affected their employees' workforce.
The COVID pandemic gave many people, especially those in lower-paid jobs, one of those jolts which can cause them to rethink their life. Internal restaurant workers fall into this category and an extended period without any income, or any turnover knowledge of when work and income would start back up, had many of these organization workers rethinking their priorities.
Employee and retention shortages are suddenly omnipresent throughout the industry organization, with some locations even forced to close for a few days of the week to ensure they don’t overwork their staff. Attracting new employees is harder than ever and retaining them is just as difficult as it has always been even if they need it. So how does one attract and then retain employees' retention in an industry beset with staff shortages and in need of staff?
Retain Employees' Retention By Higher Wages
In an industry organization that runs on such thin margins talking about raising wages can be a sticky subject. But in an industry where turnovers run at an average annual rate of around 70%, it can pay to pay more. Seeking higher wages today for retention isn’t the only reason employees leave an establishment, nor is it the main one, but in order to keep employees' retention they first need to be hired and a competitive work-based rate is one factor that will bring people in through the door.
Federal Workable Health Insurance and a 401k for Recruitment
Another incentive and strategy for new hires is the availability of health insurance and retirement plans. Neither is obligated under US law but, come federal tax season, companies with 50 or more full-time employees that don’t offer health insurance can receive hefty fines that scale onboarding on a per-employee basis.
Having health insurance can help to set an employee’s mind at ease, and offering them a 401k can show them that their business employer cares more about them than just the hours they can work. Both of these offerings are excellent new retention tools for employees today, especially if a company’s competitors don’t offer them. They can also work as a turnover incentive to stay in a position if the tracking insurance an employee is currently receiving is better than what a potential employer customer is offering and retention in return.
Employee Support for Recruiting Strategies
It is not an unknown fact that substance abuse is prevalent in the restaurant industry. Offering business support for employees is a good strategy for those who suffer from addiction and substance abuse cannot only change the course of their lives but can raise the employee morale, workforce, and retention of a workplace and recruitment, improve an individual’s workforce ethic, and improve all the employees’ opinions of the location and the management. An establishments HR showing that they care can encourage applicants and people to apply because they heard about the caring recruitment work environment of that location.
A manager should also be supporting their employees in the workplace. This stretches from taking their complaints about their fellow employees seriously and dealing with them promptly, to being there to support them when things are hectic and they are into the weeds. Recruitment and retention strategy, having management that will jump into the trenches alongside the organization employees when needed strengthens the bond, experience, and see retention between the team employee and earns the business manager respect where they would otherwise be scorned (behind their back) for not assisting when in need.
Time-Built and Creative Benefits
Employee benefits are excellent, but if they’re all available from the beginning of employment then the employee soon forgets the initial boost of joy and retention they received from them. It is for this reason that many brands, both chains, and single-unit operators, have taken to staggering the implementation of employee benefits. This can be done in numerous ways and many operators say they are getting creative about how they stagger new employees.
Employers are also being creative about strategies on what benefits they offer, with some offering shifts that work around giving employees time off with their children, an employee with a disability, and others choosing to annually share a percentage of their turnover work profits with their competitive new employees, which encourages the employees to bring their A-game every day and to stay around for longer. Recruiting new employers can get creative recruitment by tailoring the benefits they offer to both the need of the employee and the needs of the company and customers in the business.
Scheduling Input Retention
Schedules don’t have to be ridged, they can also be dynamic in the sense that they can change from week to week depending on the employee's need. Employees can’t be allowed to control every element of their schedule —that would cause unmanageable chaos— but allowing the employees to have an input into the planning of their own working week can drastically raise the employees' morale, recruitment, increase their job satisfaction, and improve the employees' business attitude and work ethic harm.
Ideas and Input for Retention
All employees are going to have thoughts and opinions on the location in which they work link experience, from ideas and strategies about the menu items to opinions on the decor; and often these go unheard or, even worse, unsaid. Providing employees solutions with the platform to offer their input on matters relating to a location has benefits for both sides. From the recruiting management’s human perspective, they receive insights from those who are seeing things from a different point of view yet are in the same location every day. From an employee’s perspective, the fact that their opinion is being heard and given weight by management increases their feeling of inclusion and ownership in their workplace, increasing the possibility that they’ll work better and prolong their tenure.
Exit Employment Interviews
Management often discovers recruitment strategy and the real reason why an employee left from the remaining employees a few days or weeks after the leaving happened. This information is priceless if management doesn’t want their employee to continue jumping ship, but this method of receiving the information isn’t exactly perfect. Hearing things that have come down the grapevine often means they’ve been reinterpreted by each re-teller of the story meaning that the version received probably isn’t made up of the words spoken by the employee that left.
The only way to get the truth is to have an exit interview as recruiting and retention strategies with the employee where honesty, no matter how brutal, is encouraged. Management should also consider allowing recruiting the employee to have a say on who sits in on the interview, in case the employees' problems lie with a specific manager to who employees may not be comfortable telling those problems. These events' exit interviews are an invaluable tool for improving an establishment’s inner workings.
The Final Word
The COVID-19 pandemic shone the light on the livelihoods of restaurant workers, showing the stark contrast between the perceived truth and the underlying reality. The initial shutdowns of the pandemic highlighted the hardworking, underserved, and often under-compensated part of the employees' life, whilst the videos shared of the treatment many received after restaurants reopened highlighted the vulnerability of the situation these employees work in on a daily basis. It is a combination of these factors that have pushed employees to seek job security in other sectors of the working world.
If restaurants want to entice employees in through the door they let solutions start thinking differently about the benefits they offer, recruiting strategies, and the input the employees have into the location they’re working in. There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to providing these benefits or fostering inclusion in the workplace because each events' location and its employees are different. But if a restaurant, be it a chain or a single unit operator, is going to retain and attract new employees then they need to think creatively about what they offer to the employee and how to channel a mutually beneficial working environment.
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