How To Rehire For Your Restaurant During COVID-19

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Over the course of the pandemic, millions of restaurants across the world have had no choice but to let go of staff.

For employees and restaurant owners alike, it’s been a difficult and unprecedented period. To put things into perspective, the New York Times reported the highest unemployment rate in the US in mid-2020 due to COVID-19 – the worst it’s been since the Great Depression.

Yet, with fast-changing conditions and many forced to look at a change of career, rehiring former staff may no longer be a viable option. If you’re short on restaurant staff, these rehiring strategies may prove to be the most effective:

Take Advantage Of Referrals

Want to have a higher chance of finding new and qualified recruits? If the answer is ‘yes’, you could implement a simple referral program. 

In fact, restaurants find up to 45% of new employees through referrals. To keep your staff on an active lookout, let them know you’re offering a financial incentive for every candidate referred who gets hired without issue. 

Generally, people only tend to recommend friends or acquaintances they personally vouch for. As such, if your staff is aware of anyone looking for a job, it may pay off to trust them to bring in a great candidate. Whether it’s a person who is quick to learn or has the right attitude, you never know who might walk through the door.

Keep It Industry-Specific

The best candidates may not always be aware of opportunities, which is why we recommend going straight to the source and casting the net yourself.

Once you’ve published your job ad, be sure to share it to a wide variety of networks – think everything from restaurant job boards to industry-specific Facebook groups. You’ll have better luck finding skilled job seekers in these niche communities, compared to generic job posting sites.

If you’re looking to fill more entry-level positions, consider advertising your job openings through professional culinary schools or institutes. Newly graduated cooks are bound to be on the hunt for a job, and may just be the perfect fit for your restaurant.

Collaborate With Other Restaurants

With less business than usual, giving your employees more hours isn’t always possible – so why not team up with another restaurant in the same boat?

By doing so, you’ll be looking out for your employees and granting them more opportunities to take on work. So if you don’t have many shifts to allocate, they can have the full freedom to pick up shifts at your partnered restaurant, and vice versa. 

Connections are always key in the industry, so you’re essentially killing two birds with one stone. Not only will you be fostering stronger relationships with other local restaurants, but you're also increasing employee retention rates as your workers are more likely to stay loyal to both establishments.

Streamline The Interview Process

With more people than ever looking for work, you’re bound to be inundated with job applications. Anyone in restaurant management knows that time is of the essence – and vetting hundreds of applications is a very time-consuming process.

That’s why it’s incredibly important to streamline the interview process.

To free up valuable time, you ought to make full use of modern technology – in particular, hiring platforms and tools that allow you to refine your search through carefully curated criteria. When interviewing applicants, make sure you ask all the vital questions regarding:

  • Familiarity with your restaurant
  • Goals in the industry
  • Years of experience
  • Transferable skills
  • Personality traits
  • Job expectations

As well as getting to know your candidate, the interview process should be a time where you make your COVID-19 health and safety protocols well known. Not only will this cement you as a responsible employer, but it will also ensure you communicate your operational standards to any future employees.