Now Hiring... Again!
Let me paint a familiar picture. You walk into a restaurant after a long workday. You see plenty of people waiting to be seated, followed by a brief look at the dining room to find plenty of open tables. The problem is a major shortage of people who are willing to work, which caused the restaurant to shut down part of their floor, altering their menu and closing early. You wait patiently to be called out while reflecting on how the current employment status has hampered your businesses abilities to perform as well. Once seated, you are interacting with the very few people who are willing to come to work, deal with the high stresses and adapt to the overwhelming (almost daily) changes to business. You pay appreciation to the service and dedication with a healthier tip than before (or at least I hope you do).
Back at work the next morning, you look at your workload and compare it to your staffing abilities as your stomach begins to churn. It’s not the effects of last night’s chili you added as your side dish. It’s the realization that you are in the same boat again.
Plenty of business, one of those little “now hiring” yard signs, and yet no applications. You commit to rolling up your sleeves and turning wrenches while trying to get new hires in the door.
Times have changed.
July 2019, I wrote an article after listening to owners complain they cannot find good help as they invest more into finding top talent rather than building it (Where Do All the Good Employees Grow?). That was a great time when applications were flowing, people were getting anxious to move up in the ranks and the future opportunities were becoming a reality. It was much more advantageous to pay attention to the potential talent and build on that rather than attempt to recruit top talent and hope they stick around.
Two years later, the pool of applications is shallow, and just like with everything else, you need to adjust your tactics to include some aggressive recruiting. That waiter or waitress who was busting their rump, smiling at every customer and adapting to the changes was precisely what you need in your business. While you gave him or her a good tip, you could have given them a good career.
The waitstaff today is walking into changing situations, understaffing, mobs of customers and has the will to not only do the job, but attempt to please every customer they come across. All you did was ask for onions and cheese in your chili rather than ask what plans they had for their professional lives.
Most wait staff are looking for a means to get by till they get to their path of their actual goal. I loved waiting tables, but while there was a career path to take in the hospitality business, it wasn’t for me. It was just a repetitive, fast paced and rewarding place where I could make some money. Sound familiar? Except while you can't get your tech to ask customers about the wipers on every vehicle, the waitress looks at the food left on your plate and asks, “Did you save room for our lava cake tonight?”
Are you worthy of the new worker?
The catch is that you have to make sure your place is attractive enough to stick around.
There are a few prominent places to eat locally that draw big daily crowds. One has hiring ads that say, “If we had a problem with you before, we are willing to bury the hatchet if you come back.”
The other one is busting out the seams with staffing processing hungry guests from greeting to goodbye. In a conversation with my oldest daughter about the differences (who is also in the restaurant business), she plainly said that it's all about the leadership. Places that are staffed are not only paying well, but the management and team are supportive and provide a great work environment despite how busy they are.
Business owners and operators who have keyed in on a collective mantra for this workforce generation—teamwork makes the dream work—have an easier time convincing talent to turn their attention towards them.
Take the time to look at your own business from an employee side. Would you want to do the work, for the pay and the environment if you were looking for work?
Chances are if your staffing is cut really short, the answer is no. If you can honestly say that your business can compete with a culture that attracts those already working, then get out there, order the lava cake and make a sales pitch for your business.