March 2007 Edition
Finding The Best Employees During the Busy Spring Season

Finding the Best Employees

During the Busy Spring Hiring Season


Competition for good employees during the spring hiring season is increasing and it can be difficult finding and retaining workers that fit within your organization.  It doesn’t matter whether the employee is full time, part time or seasonal, hiring the wrong person can present risks, cause disruptions or lead to customer attrition.


By Michelle Ponto


Maximizing the Hiring Process


According to Barrie Carlyle, Vice President of the Greater Toronto area for David Alpin Recruiting, the best way to maximize your hiring process is to run it as a one-time project regardless of whether you’re hiring a seasonal team or a mix of part time and full time employees. He says a common mistake that companies make is hiring a few people this week, a few more the week after, and a few more a month later.


“What happens when you run your hiring process all at once is you build momentum and send a positive message about your restaurant.  You get people talking about the market, the potential of the restaurant and the opportunities available,” says Carlyle.


He also says in addition to creating momentum, doing the hiring all together creates consistency.


“It helps ensure that consistency occurs both in sending the message to the market and in the screening of the candidates,” says Carlyle.


Seeking out the Best Candidates


Sometimes the best candidates are easy to find, but many times seasonal or part time restaurant employees are new to the industry making it harder to screen.


“The best predictor of future performance is past performance,” says Carlyle.  “A lot of times if the employee has no work experience, the employer will look at school grades and teacher’s comments.  While this is important, what is more relevant is what they did in their part time work.”


Attending school is compulsory therefore, their performance may not reflect how they would perform

in the workplace.  Instead of only checking their grades, check for anything the person did on their own time and see how they performed at these activities. Carlyle also highly recommends getting references and asking current employees for referrals. 


“We always tell our clients to make good reference checking part of the hiring process,” says Carlyle. “We also view referrals as strong candidates.  Good people know good people.”


A common recruiting industry statistic states that one third of the people interviewed for any given position will come from referrals, but those people will make up two thirds of the people hired.  One way to get referrals is to offer some type of reward such as cash, gift certificates or movie passes.


Retaining Employees Once Hired


Turnover rate within the foodservice industry is high, but there are ways to help keep your employees happy.


“When it comes to seasonal employees, some sort of retention bonus at the end of the contract is extremely effective,” says Carlyle.


The work environment you create can also differentiate your restaurant from others and keep your employees from going to the competition.  One tip is to offer flexibility with the schedule.  Other suggestions include motivating the staff with bonuses, encouragement and recognition of good work, but the number one way to keep your staff

is through investing the time to train them properly.


“Training is the most important thing you can do when it comes to a new hire,” says Carlyle. “Often when a new hire doesn’t make it beyond one

or two weeks, they will tell us that they either didn’t understand what they supposed to be doing or that the job was wildly different from what they were led to believe.”


Carlyle suggests one way of avoiding this problem is by being honest with candidates during the interview process about what the job entails, the hours involved and the atmosphere of the establishment.  He also says training them properly early on and keeping their skills updated on an on-going basis will keep employees.


One Last Tip for New Hires


Getting commitment from a group of strangers is hard, but one way to overcome this is by conducting a team building exercise early on – preferably within the first

few days of the new hires’ start date.  Again, this works extremely well if the seasonal or new hires were done all the same time. 


Because you have a number of new employees starting at relatively the same time, they bond together during the event, get to know each other and feel like they are part

of a shared responsibility.


“People tend to work better and in a more committed fashion if they feel they have the same vested interest in the company as their fellow employees,” says Carlyle


But before you run a hiring project this spring, there is one question you need to ask: Why would somebody want to work for your restaurant?  Knowing the answer to this, will help employees choose your establishment over others and keep them there.


“We also view referrals as strong candidates. Good people know good people.”