Summer is nearly over and for many businesses, that means it’s back to school hiring season. Students are getting ready to head back to class, which means (even higher than normal) turnover, downsizing, or both.
With people soaking up the last few days of summer, you’ll still have customers, yet most of your labor force is heading back to class leaving it harder to fill certain shifts, especially those on weekdays. To keep your business running smoothly in September, here are four tips for back to school hiring.
1. Offer seasonal employees a new position
You’ve probably hired some great employees over the summer that you want to keep. If your summer workers are students who live in your city or town, offer them a part-time job throughout the year. Students working for the summer may assume they aren’t needed in September, but letting them know that work is available throughout the year can save you hiring, training, and onboarding costs.
Even doing some simple math we can see the savings: to keep a member of staff, a manager might have to spend one hour talking with them and two more hours to arrange schedules – that’s three hours total (at most) to keep your existing staff.
Hiring a new staff member could involve time posting job ads and help wanted signs (two hours), sorting through applications and resumes (three hours), interview scheduling and actually conducting interviews (five hours), and onboarding paperwork (two hours). That’s 4x more time – a whopping 12 hours total, nine hours more than it takes to keep on an existing staff member.
If your general manager makes $25 an hour that’s an easy savings of $225.
2. Make your businesses’ shifts more flexible
Many students stop working after summer is finished because they’re concerned about balancing school work and a job. However, with most university or college students in class only 20 hours a week, they still have time in their schedule when they could be making some extra cash. But if all your business’ shifts are eight hours in length, then a student who has class from 1-4pm on a Thursday won’t be able to come in and fill a shift, even though they have plenty of time in their day to work.
Consider changing the shifts at your business to work better with a candidate’s schedule. This could mean splitting eight-hour shifts into four-hour shifts so students can work, or longer shifts for employees who have to travel far to work. It might also mean adjusting business hours to optimize the use of your available staff.
Scheduling flexibility is more effort for managers and owners, but in a competitive labor market, splitting a daytime shift could help you to keep on as many employees as possible. Instead of manually scheduling shifts using spreadsheets, you can automate the process with shift scheduling software that builds a schedule based on staff availability and your weekly schedule.
To ensure you get candidates who can work the shifts you need, use an applicant tracking system when screening candidates that gives them a higher score based on the shifts you need to be filled.
3. Offer a wage premium for hard to fill shifts
Foodservice is usually a low margin business, so suggesting you increase your labor costs is not a popular option, but in certain situations, it may be necessary in order to stay open.
Imagine this: Susan has been opening up the store at 6 AM for the past 9 months. Then suddenly she approaches you because she has been offered a job that pays $9.50 an hour instead of $8.50. Would you rather have to spend a few weeks waking up at 5 AM, working the opening shift, then spending your afternoon and evenings hiring as you try to fill the position that Susan left? Or would you rather pay Susan an extra $10 a shift to keep her on?
Nearly half of American wage earners earn less than $30,000 a year – which works out to $15/hr. For a large portion of your potential workforce, a difference of even $1/hr could be a deciding factor in whether or not to take a particular shift.
While this will increase costs in the short term, the savings from not having to recruit or train new staff can more than make up this difference. Remember – the time it takes to hire people has a cost of $3,600 a year even for a small operation.
4. Automate your back to school hiring process
Even if you offer above-market compensation and flexible schedules, you will still have turnover. Students graduate, get internships in a different city or study abroad for a semester. Anything can happen, and when it does, having a solid and well-optimized hiring process will help you find your next employee faster.
Make sure you know how to get people in your town or city to apply for jobs quickly, or have access to a talent pool or resume bank.
When trying to get young people to apply for jobs, you want to make sure your job ads are being shown in places where they’ll see them, and make sure your job application is accessible from a mobile phone. Posting jobs to Facebook or getting them shown on Google Search are good first steps to reaching a younger demographic.
70% of job applications are completed on a mobile device, with the majority of these from young people. Text-To-Apply can increase the number of qualified applications received by some restaurant operators by as much as 8x.
Instead of reading piles of paper resumes, use an applicant tracking system (ATS) to help filter and screen candidates. By using an ATS, hiring managers spend just a few minutes to decide who to interview instead of a few hours. Research which ATS is designed for your industry – while many companies have an ATS to offer, very few are specifically tailored for the needs of the restaurant industry.
Lastly, you want a system that can invite people in for interviews quickly and without hassle so that you can hire someone as quickly as possible. An ATS can help you automate the interview scheduling, and rescheduling, for your business.
Back to school hiring can be a major challenge for any employer, but managing it can be easy if you plan ahead. Being more flexible to retain those trained and qualified staff, and implementing a robust hiring system will ensure no matter what happens, your business will continue to thrive and prosper.
Learn more: hiring tips and trends for restaurants in 2019