One of the most cost-prohibitive areas for food service businesses lies in the often-continuous process of employing labor to do the work. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics data, job separations in accommodation and food services are outpacing hiring rates and contributing to a 5 percent increase in job openings over last year.

Adding to the difficulty in finding quality employees is the basic cost of living, which often cannot be met by a single position in food service where the worker makes a median wage of $9 per hour. While the younger generations attend college at a higher rate than previous ones, sky-high college loan costs keep many eligible job seekers from choosing positions in food service once they graduate. When recent graduates realize that they can get higher-paying entry-level jobs in other industries, open food service positions become especially hard to fill.

The low national unemployment rate also doesn’t help. Competition for top talent is growing fiercer as we reach full employment, and employers are having to offer higher wages, increased benefits, or job flexibility to fill open positions. However, many food service operations can’t or won’t jump on the competitive employment package bandwagon for low-skill work.

Faced with so many challenges, how can food service operators fill open positions with quality talent while decreasing hiring costs?

Tactic 1: Offer More Flexibility

As job seekers diversify their lives to include part-time schooling, contract work, and other obligations, they are becoming more interested in flexible work options. According to a 2015 FlexJobs survey of more than 2,600 participants, “[F]lexible work options would make 82 percent of the survey’s respondents more loyal.”

Food service operations that offer flexible work options, such as part-time shifts and temporary contracts, can retain talent longer. They can also save on the hiring costs associated with high employee turnover. Additionally, employees with access to flexible work options have a better chance at balancing life and work, which has been shown to decrease stress and improve productivity.

Tactic 2: Give Good Employees a Reason to Stay

Nine out of ten food service managers began their careers in entry-level positions, so entry-level employees do stay on to move up in the business. According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), employers that provide opportunities for advancement are better able to retain great talent that will help the business succeed for years to come.

Tactic 3: Conduct Background Checks

Food service operations need customers to thrive, and customers want good service. Repeat customers are particularly important: They spend two-thirds more than new customers do. Since good customer service contributes to repeat customers, quality staff can improve operations.

Professional background screening is one of the most reliable ways to ensure that the staff you hire will contribute to a positive customer experience. Experienced and accredited background screeners like InfoMart provide criminal history searches, drug tests, credit checks, and more to help you choose the best employees.

Contact us today to learn more or get a free quote on experienced and compliant background screening for your food service operation.

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