SXSW Recap (Part One) - Recruiting and Retaining Employees

Mar 20

Find Them, Keep Them

During a restaurant industry meetup at SXSW, Sampling the Restaurant Climatewe discussed the issue of recruiting and retaining employees. Throughout the conference and at other meetups, our restaurant members have consistently brought up finding and keeping good talent as a major issue and source of stress for them. 

Led by Tom Thornton of Austin Food and Wine Alliance and Kristi Willis, a local restaurant and food writer, our group discussed a list of ideas we are seeing in the industry now to help attract and retain employees:

  • Flexibility – Offering flexible work schedules to employees so they can easily request time off - instead of quitting the job. Using tech tools to facilitate this flexibility is a big need for both employers and employees.
  • Mentoring and Education – Creating opportunities for employees to learn more than just their assigned duties, some restaurants are bringing in mentors from different segments and areas of expertise to give brief talks to staff about the industry and how to grow and develop their careers.
  • Stages – Along the same lines as above, some restaurant operators are creating stage programs for their employees to go and learn from another restaurant, sometimes in another city. After a few weeks, they return and teach the team what they learned from the experience.
  • Benefits – Offering benefits which may include healthcare, paid time off, and even help with student loans.
  • Better Pay – To stay competitive, some restaurants are upping their base pay or creating a seniority-based raise programs to encourage employees to stay.
  • Menu Simplification – Creating dishes that are less involved means you don’t have to continue to hire the most experienced cooks.
  • New Concepts – Similar to above, creating fast casual or quick service spin off concepts from full service brands, which allow for faster service times and more transactions.
  • Referral bonuses – Employees who refer someone to the business are awarded a bonus after the new employee stays on for a set amount of time. An additional benefit of a referral program is the new employee will likely fit your current culture if recommended by a great current employee. 




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