Delicious food is only half the battle in building a successful restaurant — you also need exceptional employees. Restaurant staff are responsible for providing high-quality service, humanizing the business and embodying the values and personality of the brand. With a finely honed recruiting and hiring process, you can build a high-performing team.
What restaurant positions do you need to fill?
Every restaurant has different hiring requirements; your staffing needs will depend on the size of the restaurant, the type of service, and the average number of customers. Counter-service restaurants typically require fewer employees than traditional eateries, for example. An average casual restaurant might need 1 server per 5-7 tables, 4 kitchen workers and 2 support workers for every shift.
Some of the restaurant staff positions you may need to fill include:
- Restaurant manager. The manager ensures the restaurant runs smoothly. They hire staff, manage finances and maintain the staff schedule. In many cases, they interact with customers and handle complaints.
- Food and beverage manager. In some restaurants, this manager oversees the ordering process for food and drinks. They typically collaborate with bartenders and chefs to ensure a careful inventory balance.
- Executive chef. This chef is in charge of the kitchen. They oversee the menu, manage inventory, oversee kitchen staff and ensure each dish is up to par.
- Cooks/chefs. These restaurant employees are responsible for making the food. Prep cooks prepare the ingredients and workstations, while head chefs, sous chefs and line cooks handle most of the cooking.
- Bartender. Bartenders make and pour drinks, clean glassware and ensure the bar is stocked.
- Host. Hosts greet customers and guide them to their seats. They also take reservations, answer phone calls and maintain the waiting list.
- Server. Servers take orders and educate customers about menu items. In many restaurants, they also handle payments. They may also serve food and refill water, though some businesses hire food runners or expediters for those tasks. Servers typically make a special minimum wage that’s supplemented with tips.
- Busser. A busser is an employee who clears tables and brings dishes to the kitchen.
- Cashier. Cashiers handle money. At fast-food restaurants, they may also be responsible for food preparation.
- Dishwasher. These workers run dishes and utensils through industrial cleaners as they come into the kitchen, ensuring cooks and front-of-house staff have a supply of clean options.
Fine-dining restaurants usually have more staff members working at any given time. That’s because each person has a specialized and limited role. In addition to the general restaurant staff, you might also need a sommelier, a maître d’ and a pastry chef. High-end restaurants often have a larger hierarchy of chefs, each with distinct roles.
Importance of a Skilled Restaurant Staff
A skilled restaurant staff is the element that takes a restaurant from good to great. After all, your employees play a big role in the customer experience. Every employee, from the manager to the dishwasher, plays a part — hosts ensure guests are seated efficiently, the chef provides excellent food and the bussers keep the tables free of empty dishes. Servers are particularly important; they set the tone for the meal, making diners feel welcome and anticipating their needs. If something goes awry in the kitchen, an experienced server knows how to communicate the situation and maintain a positive vibe.
Capable restaurant employees also contribute to the back-end functionality of your business, keeping operations running smoothly. Tables are flipped quickly between guests, the dining area stays clean and food quality stays consistent.
If you focus on hiring and training skilled workers, it can create ripple effects that extend through the business. When everyone is pulling their weight, employees can focus on their own responsibilities instead of covering for others. The resulting positive atmosphere can help reduce employee turnover. In fact, the National Restaurant Association has found that 17% of employees quit because of workplace culture.
Tips for Recruiting New Restaurant Staff
When you’re hiring restaurant workers, it’s helpful to develop a set of best practices. An established set of standards creates a more consistent experience for the hiring manager and the new employees. A few practices to adopt are:
- Write job descriptions that are detailed but not overwhelming.
- Use a realistic job preview to communicate positive and negative aspects of each position.
- Be transparent about pay up front.
- Design an onboarding practice that integrates each new restaurant employee into the company culture.
- Train restaurant staff thoroughly before they start working.
Once your hiring practice is set, use these tips to refine your recruitment and hiring strategies:
- Expand your reach. Ask the HR team to post job openings in more places. Include a mix of popular hiring methods, such as digital job boards and print publications. Don’t be afraid to post job flyers on community bulletin boards — it’s an effective way to reach job seekers when they’re visiting the local coffee shop or grocery store.
- Consider soft skills. Look for workers who have strong soft skills, such as personable communication and conflict resolution. Then, you can train them in the necessary hard skills.
- Move quickly. Keep the hiring process short and sweet; it demonstrates respect for candidates’ time and reduces the risk that applicants will take other job offers while they wait.
- Anticipate hiring needs. Ensure your restaurant is fully staffed by starting the hiring process as early as possible. This is particularly important if you hire seasonal workers, since competition for talent is higher during the busy season.
- Ask for referrals. Chances are your employees know other people in the restaurant industry. Ask them to refer strong candidates, and provide a bonus if you hire a referral. It’s a great way to find talented workers and recognize your employees’ contributions.
Challenges of Hiring Restaurant Workers
If you run a restaurant, hiring challenges are inevitable. Employee churn is one of the biggest issues; the restaurant industry is notorious for high turnover. In fast-food restaurants, the monthly turnover rate is 144%.
Every time an employee leaves, your management team must spend time and money hiring replacement staff. That’s not always easy in 2023; the ongoing global labor shortage is making it harder to find qualified restaurant workers.
Once you hire restaurant employees, your next challenge becomes retention. If you can find ways to keep workers longer, it cuts costs, saves time and creates a consistent experience for customers.
One way to boost job satisfaction and retention is to build an order-management process that makes employees’ lives easier. That’s where Grubhub can help — the platform integrates with your POS system, empowering workers to do their jobs more efficiently. When they’re spending less time on technology, your team can focus on preparing delicious food and providing top-notch service.
If you’re curious about how Grubhub can support your restaurant’s hiring and retention, as well as the customer experience, get started today.