Five Common Seasonal Hiring Mistakes and How to Avoid Them – Modern Restaurant Management | Team Cansler

The inevitable cycle of seasonal fluctuations in activity occurs every year, but can catch the restaurant industry off guard if it’s unprepared.

As these chaotic holidays approach, restaurants may need to ramp up both their kitchens and staff, but neither is as easy as it sounds. This is especially true as restaurants prepare for another uncertain holiday season. Managers and owners must develop strategic hiring plans by the end of 2022 and into 2023 to protect employees from overtime and burnout.

Despite a slowing holiday season, there’s still a demand to hire restaurant workers to keep up with the inevitable influx of people eating out more frequently during the holidays – in fact, 17 percent of restaurant managers are still looking for labour. However, limited budgets and resources require thoughtful hiring decisions to reduce time and money wasted on posting jobs or training new hires.

When hiring seasonal workers, whether for customer-facing positions, kitchen support, or back-end logistics roles, it’s easy to get caught up in the immediacy of the task and inadvertently abandon parts of the hiring process that produce high-quality candidates. Below, we look at five common mistakes recruiters make when hiring seasonal workers and how you can avoid them in order to meet your annual goals.

Mistake #1: Neglecting a seasonal hiring strategy

While it may seem efficient to use the same hiring process for short-term and long-term employees, you would be doing yourself a disservice. Attracting seasonal talent requires a little more creativity in terms of sourcing, screening, and onboarding, and prospective hires deserve a curated experience tailored to their schedules, access, and skillset. By developing a short-term employee-specific hiring plan, you give yourself the opportunity to recruit and hire based on your specific needs, right now.

How to avoid

Think big when it comes to recruiting. Start with questions like: Where do your ideal applicants typically look for jobs? How can you make sure they find and apply for your job? How do they usually apply?

Once you’ve created an image of your ideal applicant, make sure your application process matches their lifestyle and urgency. For example, college students who are home for winter vacation would benefit from a mobile-friendly application journey with very few steps.

Mistake #2: Inaccurate needs assessment

Amidst the hustle and bustle of activities leading up to a busy season, you can sometimes lose focus on what your business actually needs, aside from a few extra hands. We often tend to overthink what a seasonal worker can accomplish in their short time as an employee. Training and onboarding for a new role is no easy task, and it may take time to learn before they can begin to meet the requirements.

How to avoid

Consider your broader goals by asking: How does hiring seasonal workers fit into your budget? How does this affect your annual sales and expenses? What’s the most efficient way to hire short-term employees while recognizing the efforts and progress of your current team?

A thorough needs analysis will help you determine who you need, how many people you need, and how adding people can complement (rather than compete with) existing processes. For example, hiring support for current staff (e.g., hostess, busser, bar-back) can give current staff extra hands to prepare for service or attend to customers during busy periods. Similar roles that require minimal training allow full-time employees to take the lead while feeling supported by seasonal workers.

Mistake #3: Waiting too long to start hiring

Seasonal hiring schedules can vary by industry, but it’s never unwise to start earlier than you think. Restaurants and other businesses are scrambling for seasonal talent, so you might find that with a few extra weeks you can get a real leg up on the competition.

How to avoid

Seasonal rentals don’t have to be limited to normal rush hours. To stay ahead of the curve, consider making your seasonal hiring strategy a year-round endeavor.

Invest in a hiring platform that enables fast, mobile applications, with features like text-to-apply and automations that keep your potential talent funnel flowing without the need for manual intervention.

Mistake #4: Hiring only for seasonal reasons

One of your seasonal hiring goals may be to hire employees to take on additional responsibilities that your current employees can’t handle, but don’t overlook the potential for longevity. Seasonal hires have the potential to bring positive traits and changes to your current roster and can be beneficial over time. Alternatively, some seasonal workers may be available for the same role year after year.

How to avoid

When interviewing seasonal workers, consider the candidates’ long-term goals and how they align with your company’s goals. If there is a match and you see potential in a candidate’s skills beyond the preliminary season, be transparent about the possibility of remaining on the staff after the prep period is over. For yearly hires, developing a workflow that allows them to easily connect and recruit on an annual basis means less time to get employees on the ground.

Mistake #5: Not investing in longevity

Continuing with the above, you might decide to approach your hiring strategy with a completely different end goal: keeping seasonal workers with the company for the long term.

How to avoid

Investing in long-term hiring starts with sourcing: Set up your hiring parameters to filter for candidates looking for short-term or contract work, with the option to renew after the contract ends.

During the screening and interviews, discuss the candidate’s career goals and consider whether you might have a more permanent position for them in the future.

The seasonal setting can get messy and interfere with your day-to-day operations. But with a stable system that can be replicated at the start of any busy season, it’s easy to outperform the competition and attract high-value talent exactly when you need it.

Slowed seasonal settings are still hiring

Regardless of uncertain economic situations, the holiday season will always show spikes in spending in grocery stores, including grocery stores, caterers and restaurants, where people value experiences, especially those related to food. According to a retrospective study by Bank of America, restaurant-goers continued to dine out at steady rates during the Great Recession (January 2008 to July 2009), despite sharp falls in spending in all other areas. They simply adjusted where they spent their money to choose more affordable options.

This continued interest in hospitality services will result in consistently high demand for seasonal workers, especially as families, offices and groups of friends prepare to celebrate the holidays again this year. Managers and restaurant owners must balance increased workloads with tight budgets to maximize profits without burning out their employees. Fortunately, digital services and strategic hiring practices can help ease that burden while reducing the wasted time and money hiring and interviewing candidates, putting every restaurant on a solid financial footing by 2023.

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