The restaurant industry is one of the most competitive out there — not least of which when it comes to hiring a great staff. But when there are so many large hospitality groups in the mix, all offering aggressive salaries and a laundry list of benefits, it can be hard for smaller restaurants to stand out as employers. So why not take a cue from start-up culture, and get creative with your benefits? Here are some ideas for how to market your independent restaurant to potential employees and earning and keeping an excellent team, even when you don’t have the resources of a hospitality behemoth.
Arrange for employee discounts at local businesses.
Have friendly boutiques, salons, or grocery stores in the area? Ask for exclusive discounts for your employees. It’s a win-win, as it brings a new audience for these shops and a freebie for your team. Try out a service like AnyPerk, which helps connect your employees to great deals.
Offer a generous parental leave policy.
One of the most no-brainer ways of earning goodwill as a company is to provide the kind of parental leave that doesn’t force new moms and dads to go back to work just a week or two after having a kid. If you’re generous with parental leave in the short term, then in the long run, you’re helping to guarantee that when your employees come back to work, they’ll be productive and recharged; they’ll also be more likely to stay with you for longer.
Host classes and other learning opportunities.
Wine and beer tastings with local providers; pottery demonstrations; harvesting at a local farm — these are all great examples of fun social gatherings that will also make your employees perform better and more informed about the hospitality business.
This is a small touch that makes a big difference. Most employees are likely grabbing a coffee before their shift — make it easy for them by making a big pot of coffee every morning and afternoon, and putting it out in a large dispenser with cups.
Enact summer Fridays.
During the summer months, when times are slower, offer employees one or two extra days off (Fridays or otherwise) of their choice. They’ll appreciate the gesture during the less-busy period.
Start an employee sports team or gym class.
Nothing unites a team quite like sweating together. Join a company sports league, or strike up a partnership with a local fitness class — you’ll be encouraging a healthy lifestyle and providing yet another social outlet for your employees.
Give out company swag.
Even if it’s something as small as a hat or a pin, giving out swag to new employees is an easy and low-cost way of giving your team a sense of ownership over and loyalty toward the restaurant.
Offer free rides to the last employee at the restaurant.
No one likes to be the one to close up shop. Make the process a little more bearable by offering to pay for a car home. Again, small gestures like this pay big dividends.
Photo credit: Justin Kaneps.