How to Attract and Retain Hospitality Staff

a photo of Mike Hardman, Marketing Manager at Alliance Online

Mike Hardman, Marketing Manager at Alliance Online

5 min read

Aug 19, 2021

How to Attract and Retain Hospitality Staff

Recent research has found that the hospitality sector was the worst hit by the rise in unemployment during the pandemic. Mike Hardman from restaurant industry experts Alliance Online highlights how to attract and retain staff for your business.

The hospitality industry has been extremely affected by the coronavirus outbreak, with the UK government publishing findings that show it is one of the hardest-hit industries from the pandemic. In fact, a recent tracker from UK Hospitality and CGA showed that the hospitality sector has lost £100 billion in sales during the pandemic. Added to this, the industry has long had a history of high staff turnover and often faces difficulty keeping people in the businesses long-term.

So, how can you attract people to your business, and retain them once you’ve hired them? There are various ways to encourage people to apply for the roles you advertise, and some measures you can take to encourage and retain your team. These tips can help save you the time, hassle and money of hiring. Plus, it gives you some stability with a core team that you can train, develop and use to provide a better service in your restaurant or bar.

Prioritize people who lost their jobs during the pandemic

When you’re ready to take on more staff, the best starting point is to make a list of any employees that you had to let go or furlough during the coronavirus pandemic. Offer their roles back to them before advertising them publicly. This showcases your appreciation for the skills and knowledge they bring to the table. It will also demonstrate to your former employees that you view them as important members of the team.

This will also promote an atmosphere where people feel valued, and enjoy being at work. Not only is this great for retaining staff, but it’s also good for your reputation as an employer. Word will get around that you prioritize and remember your workers, and you should find it easier to get more applications next time you hire.

Offer expert training through workshops and industry events

A recent research study asked employees across different industries in the UK why someone might leave the hospitality sector, and 35% cited the lack of career prospects as a primary reason. Only 44% of those who had worked in hospitality said it was their main occupation, indicating that the industry is often not seen as a long-term career path. 

The lack of progression experienced by front and back of house staff can be remedied with workshops, industry training, and events that encourage learning and career progression. These initiatives also demonstrate that employees are valued additions to the company, giving them a sense of purpose and identity within the industry.

Provide perks, incentives and best-in-class technology to employees

Being part of the hospitality industry is hard work. The hours are long, and being on your feet all day can be draining. This is why it’s important to offer your staff perks and incentives to stay with the company. 

These can be simple things like employee discounts at your establishment, a free meal or drink on shift or being able to take a hot drink away with you when you finish work. You could also offer staff the ability to earn extra cash through sales incentives for selling certain items or getting guests to sign up for loyalty programs. There’s also the tried and true method of promoting your company culture through ‘Employee of the Month’ type programs. Plus, don’t forget to host holiday parties with your team, or create tasting sessions for new drinks and dishes so they know what to recommend to guests. All these small perks add up to make your workplace one that staff will want to stay at.

It’s vital to also offer extra tools to help your employees while they’re at work too. Implementing technology like SevenRooms’ guest experience and retention platform can save your employees time and make their day-to-day tasks much easier. As a result, your staff are more likely to stay for the long-term.

Create a culture you’re proud of sharing

Having a positive, supportive company culture is one of the best things you can do for staff retention and attracting new talent. Make sure to have clear communication with staff — they should know your expectations, the hours and shifts they’ll be working, and what they can do to progress within your business. Clear, concise communication is a great way to build up employee trust and show people that they are valued within your company.

Staff should also feel able to bring any issues to management and feel empowered to discuss ways of making things more efficient or enjoyable in the workplace. Whether it’s managing conflict or embracing new ideas, having an open and honest company culture can help to make your workplace a more positive, encouraging environment where everyone feels valued. Allow staff to bring their ideas to you, and make a concerted effort to implement the ones that will work well for your business. You could find yourself rewarded with not only better employee retention, but also some great new methods of working that could make your business run more smoothly.

A positive company culture doesn’t just stop at communication either. Being a successful restaurant owner means keeping your processes organized and knowing when to delegate tasks to other team members. A reliable, well-organized system will make employees feel more at ease when you’re not around, as they’ll always know what to do and where to go for help if they need it. As a result, your processes will be more efficient, staff will feel more secure, and they are more likely to continue working at your restaurant.

Consider changing your recruitment methods and channels

If you’re hiring, but struggling to find quality applications, consider changing where and how you advertise vacancies. Sometimes something as simple as advertising on another job website can have an impact on the pool of applications that you receive. 

If you usually use Indeed, for example, try exploring Harri, Culinary Agents, Linkedin, Instagram or Facebook. It’s also a good idea to ask your current staff where they found your job prior to being hired and if they’d be willing to refer any potential candidates to the role. You could even consider implementing a more formal referral program at your restaurant. Employee referrals save a company over $7,500 per hire, and data shows that referred employees are likely to stay in the role much longer than sourced talent. 

While the hospitality industry has faced many challenges throughout the pandemic, there are plenty of things that you can do to make both hiring and retaining staff easier. If you make staff feel valued, offer career progression, and give them some perks for all their hard work, you can foster a company culture that encourages staff to make a long-term commitment to your business, setting you up for future success. 

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