Every week we comb through the news to find employment trends affecting the hospitality industry so you don’t have to. This week’s topic: will COVID-19 change the future of restaurant recruitment?
Although we’re more than 6 months into the pandemic, experts are still trying to understand how the coronavirus will impact the hospitality industry long-term. So far, the emergence of the virus has led to capacity restrictions for dine-in service, new health standards across the board, and thousands of business closures (many of them permanent) – but one factor not commonly considered is how it will affect restaurant recruitment post-pandemic.
When looking at the future of restaurant recruitment, it’s important to first think about some of the factors that could impact a job seekers decision to find employment in the hospitality industry. One of those factors is something the virus taught us, which is that restaurants are more essential than we thought. Even though dine-in has been restricted since the emergence of the pandemic, fast-food and delivery services have mostly been available the entire time. Not only do they offer lower-contact options, but they also provide an element from our ‘normal’ lives that most people are missing.
Another factor to keep in mind is just how hard the restaurant industry was hit because of the virus. In the past several months, almost 16,000 restaurants closed permanently and over 5 million employees were furloughed. As it stands, some states still have restrictions placed on restaurants and bars that do not allow them to operate at full capacity, with some suggesting that the restaurant industry won’t return to pre-COVID levels until late 2021 or early 2022. In addition, the pandemic has changed how we look at going to work; even with taking all possible precautions, employees are still risking their health to continue servicing customers.
With all these factors considered, it begs the question: Did careers/jobs in hospitality lose appeal as a result of the coronavirus?
Right now, it’s hard to say. For a lot of businesses, their current recruitment process involves re-hiring previously furloughed employees and then finding new workers to replace those who can’t/won’t return. For that reason, it’s difficult to determine how successful hiring has been and whether the factors mentioned above have an impact on attracting candidates – which brings us to our next question: How can restaurants attract top talent post-COVID?
Before their first day, new hires should understand what challenges your business is facing, how it affects their role, and what they can do to ease any struggles. Be transparent about any difficulties and set proper expectations up front to help ensure a successful beginning to your partnership.
If you’re worried that people won’t return to the hospitality industry, then make it a place they want to return to by creating a great work environment and providing a competitive salary and benefits. We understand that being asked to spend money (especially during these times) is easier said than done – but if candidates know you’re willing to compensate them fairly, they’ll be more willing to put themselves at risk working with the public. Plus, serious benefits will attract serious candidates.
Working in a restaurant isn’t the riskiest job you can have right now, but it’s certainly riskier than positions that allow working from home. Employees will be looking to their managers to understand what they’re doing to provide a safe work environment and how they’ll maintain any restrictions set by local or state laws. Without this, candidates will be hesitant to sign on if they don’t think you prioritize health and safety.
Until we start to see hiring pick back up, it will be hard to determine whether the coronavirus has influenced hospitality recruitment. Based off the new risks and the overall uncertainty of the industry, it’s safe to say that there will be new challenges surrounding recruiting and hiring post-COVID. The main point to takeaway is this: candidates will feel more confident taking jobs in the restaurant industry if they:
- Know their personal safety is a priority.
- Have good reasons to put themselves at risk.
By being transparent about operations and offering competitive pay, they’ll have the motivation they need to work in an industry that has proven to be essential during trying times.