And how to prevent it in your bar or restaurant.

You might have noticed it’s getting harder to find staff in today’s market.

Maybe, like the fishing industry, bars and restaurants have depleted some of their resources. Some industry professionals believe this is the case; others disagree. But, like any resource, hospitality employees must be protected, and plans should be implemented to make sure they remain a sustainable resource.

Over the years, the hospitality industry has received a bad reputation for high turnover and a shallow talent pool. Why is this? Most establishments will be quick to say it’s not their fault, it’s the other restaurants out there that are careless in their management practices.

Well, let’s see if our industry’s practices truly are part of the solution, or part of the problem.

As a bar or restaurant owner, do you:

  1. Pay higher wages than others in your market? If you’re on the lower end of compensation, you tend to get the lower talent.
  2. Promote from within? Without a chance for growth and opportunity, people become disengaged at work and will seek opportunity elsewhere. This contributes to the growing pattern of job hopping in the industry.
  3. Have a thorough training program? A great training program is more than just initial job training. Restaurants with rigorous training programs understand that learning and improvement is continuous—school is never out for the professional.

In the same way that you carefully craft your brand, you need to craft your culture in a way that attracts top talent, especially if you are to stand out in a crowded market.

First impressions go both ways—you might judge an applicant by their appearance and other clues before you even look at their resume, and you can bet that potential employee is also judging you by your demeanor and the atmosphere and physical condition of your restaurant.

The question really boils down to this: have you created a restaurant that people want to work at?

What you need to do is create an environment that attracts top talent.

Here are some ways to start:

  1. Do an objective walk-through of your restaurant. Are there any walls that need touch-up paint? Any furniture or kitchen equipment that needs to be either repaired or replaced? If you want to hire people that pay attention to the details, you have to be the first one.
  2. Get creative in your job advertisements. The number one mistake most restaurants and bars make when trying to hire is that they publish an ad that is nothing more than a simple job description. Being creative sets you apart from all the other restaurants in your market trying desperately to fill the same positions. Advertising for a dishwasher might get you one or two responses. Advertising a job for a Ceramic Aquatic Technician might seem a little silly, but you will definitely get some inquiries. When posting your job ads, you want to adopt the same mindset as marketing—sometimes, what you say takes a backseat to how you say it.
  3. Lastly, you must become a mirror for the type of talent you’re looking for. If you want a team with integrity and honesty, you need to be a leader with integrity and honesty. If you want a team with high energy, you need to set the tone with high energy, every single day.

If we are to make this industry appealing to the younger generations, we need to develop and maintain a professional perception of the industry. Reality TV shows have tainted our image. But we all know that chefs yelling and screaming at staff is very rare in the real world. Most owners, managers and chefs are good people, it’s just that the bad ones get more press.

The best thing to do is set the bar high for yourself, first. You have to raise your standards. You have to expect more from yourself than you do from others. When you step up to be the leader they expect, you’ll see the culture turn around. Soon, you’ll start to see the quality of applicants raise and you’ll find your business attracting (and retaining) top industry talent.

For more tips on managing your bar, download our free Guide to Bar Management.

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