The vague aroma of pumpkin spice LTOs is a sign fall is just around the corner. However, the changing seasons also mean that class is back in session for restaurants’ student workforce. With record low unemployment, filling the staffing holes left by these young workers can be a tricky task for operators. “When you’re looking for seasonal, part-time and millennial help, we’ve got to adjust our methods,” says Hunter Brown, vice president of operations for Lennys Subs. Here’s how operators like Brown are sourcing seasonal workers.
Choose your words carefully
When it comes to recruiting seasonal and part-time workers, the Lennys team takes a different approach. The Philadelphia-style sub shop crafts listings on job sites that specifically target seasonal workers. Instead of using the terms “part-time” or “short-term,” which can get lost among the sea of posts, Brown suggests using more specific keyword phrases like “parents looking for work between school hours” and “extra cash for the holidays.”
Tell staff to take a vacation
Summer is the slow season for Uncle Jack’s Steakhouse, a three-unit New York City chain led by celebrity chef Willie Degel. During the warmer months, Degel encourages his team members to take vacations. Not only does this give his crew a break ahead of the busy season, but it cuts down on his labor costs and prevents him from having to staff up during the fall and holidays. Even his corporate team is encouraged to take Fridays off. “Ultimately, that helps me save money, and a lot of them actually voted for it,” he says.
Reach out to connections
Drew Terp, chef-owner of Pico at the Los Alamos General Store in Los Alamos, Calif., leans on his industry connections when recruiting seasonal workers. He reaches out to other chefs and general managers to find out if any of their employees are looking for a second job.
To get young employees comfortable with the application process, job postings from Brown’s team include a number that potential applicants can text for more information on the position. When hiring managers receive a text from candidates, they ask about work eligibility in the U.S., available transportation and preferred schedules. “We start a conversation over text messaging, and they let their guard down,” Brown says. “So when they come in for an in-person interview, it’s a very easy flowing conversation.”