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Why you need to start staffing up for the holidays now

Why you need to start staffing up for the holidays now

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Whether you use a data-driven recruiting process or just hire by gut feel, you’d better get moving if you want to staff up for the 2015 holiday season. The labor market is historically tight and employers in other industries are already sifting through applicants and locking in new seasonal hires. Restaurants that want to get first dibs on this shrinking labor pool should build out their candidate pipeline, dig deeper in their candidate assessments and use talent analytics to identify the recruitment methods that work best.

That was the consensus view of presenters at a recent webinar by PeopleMatter that examined holiday hiring issues from the restaurant owner’s perspective.

This year looks to be particularly tough, said Chris Burcham, v.p. of client services for recruitment ad agency Transworld Advertising. He noted that U.S, labor force participation is at a 38-year low, while unemployment, which stands at 5.1 percent, is at a seven-year low.

“Operators need to broaden their hiring strategy when the labor market is this tight,” he said.

This fewer-workers-more-jobs scenario is problematic for restaurant operators. Burcham pointed to PeopleMatter Institute figures that show year-over-year increases in the rate of hourly (up 39 percent) and managerial (up 314 percent) turnover. The average cost of turnover per employee, he said, is $4,969 for an hourly worker and $15,666 for a manager.

One result: more than two-thirds of restaurant employers want or need more applicants then they receive and nine out of 10 employers don’t find recruiting enough qualified employees easy. Given that the optimum number of applications necessary for each job opening to ensure a quality hire is 26.2, according to webinar sponsor People Matter, operators should employ diverse hiring platforms.

“Make a bigger funnel,” Burcham said.

Presenter Alex Fishman, talent acquisition manager for Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurants, gave an idea of what such a funnel might contain. She said more than 80 percent of the 20-unit chain’s hires come from five sources: referrals, its corporate website, Craiglist, job search engine and job site

Fishman reminded operators that 87 percent of people apply for jobs where they are already a customer, so it’s important to reach out to potential applicants already coming through your stores. She also suggested that job listings should reflect these top five reasons people apply for a particular job:

• location

• qualifications

• pay

• benefits

• job title

The more of these factors you can put in your job listing’s top line, the better. Location is important, but spell out the pay rate, too. It attracts better candidates. “Own what you can offer team members,” the experts said. Email campaigns, social media and recruitment open houses are other sources to tap.

Cooper’s Hawk also uses an assessment tool to quickly filter through applicants. The chain is careful to teach managers how to read assessment scales and how to dig deeper with assessment-based sample hiring questions. “It lets you bring people on objectively,” while helping to ensure there is both a job fit and cultural fit for the chosen candidate, the panelists advised.

Talent analytics software was cited as a tool operators can use to bring the power of big data to their hiring process. Right now, said PeopleMatter’s Tim Dillon, just 24 percent of companies use HR analytics software. Of those that do, only six percent think they are truly excellent at using big data. Yet 67 percent of big data users say the analytics have lowered their cost per hire and 71 percent found they lowered their time to hire.

This software is effective because it enables restaurants to visualize and measure multiple aspects of their hiring process.

No matter what steps are taken to gain qualified new staffers, a restaurant should figure out which of its multiple recruiting channels delivers the best return on investment. Then make that channel a priority in your hiring budget, panelists said.

Contact Bob krummert at [email protected]

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