Recruit & Motivate

You’ve got open slots and you want to fill them. But not with just anyone. There are ways to make the entire hiring process easier, from advertising for help to interviewing to encouraging staff to stick around longer.

Who They Know

One of the best strategies for bringing on great workers is to ask your already great workers. If they’re happy, and they’re doing things right, chances are they can connect you with others like themselves. Just ask!

Trying social media, like Twitter, to reach younger people could be the way to go today; LinkedIn is one obvious example for management recruiting. Whichever platform you’re on, there may be a fun avenue to let people know “Help Wanted.” And when giants like Tim Hortons aren’t embarrassed to recruit on the company website, there’s a lesson here. (The way TH talks about staff qualifications, it’s another method of marketing. See

School Days

Do you hire at age 16, when other operators want hires to be 18? You might find this an effective way to funnel more prospects into your entry-level jobs. Do you have a presence at the local secondary school, vocational school, college or university? Consider offering internships to students. You could also give a lecture in a business class on how to run a restaurant in order to get face time with potential employees. Or, think about placing an ad in the school newspaper, website or yearbook.

Q the Questions

Perhaps you’ve heard it said that you can train for skills, but you can’t train for attitude. Does this potential hire have a passion for excellence? Are they able to tell you how they think others see them?

Getting personal, know the questions you can legally ask (helpful guide at Know the Employment Standards for your province or territory, or whether you’re covered by federal regs. Be up to speed on the rules for young workers, foreign workers, etc.

The Other App

That’s your employment application. Make sure it’s legal, asking only the allowed questions. Beyond that, does it reflect the culture of your business right up front? For example, Subway, A&W and Dairy Queen put their logos right on the form. Find customizable templates online (Microsoft Office has one, for example—

Mutual Attraction

Finally, be honest: have you created a satisfying place to work? So many factors come into play here, from money (salary, tips, benefits, uniform purchases) to scheduling to simple respect for employees. An interview with the long-time CEO of steadily successful chain Buffalo Wild Wings, for example, shows her humility (, 12/13/14). Sally Smith instituted anonymous feedback for her job, because “it’s how I learn. It’s how I’m going to get better.”

The rigid “my way or the highway” approach to ownership and management often leads to turnover. What’s more, you could miss out on effective ideas from the people under you—because you’re squashing them.

Take the Train

That said, are your expectations for the job clear as … mud? Training doesn’t necessarily mean dictating, except when it comes to specific tasks like using a #16 scoop to portion-control a particular recipe. Employees feel more comfortable when parameters are set—as well as how you’re measuring their performance. That, in turn, affects how long they stay.

Also, keep learning styles in mind. First, tell trainees how to do a task. Then, show step by step. Finally, supervise while they try it for themselves. Allow time for repetition to hit their comfort level. You could even use visuals like posters, flipbooks or videos to reinforce learning or refresh on something new. Training games or competitions could be upbeat and fun, or they could feel like unfair pressure—know your employees’ personalities.

What Next?

Some people want to do the same things over and over the same way. But the restaurant biz doesn’t have too many of those! Try cross-training for other jobs, or offering chances to move up or sideways. Ask for feedback or suggestions, giving employees more of a partnership role in your operation. Assign someone to be a mentor to a new hire. All these strategies help keep staffers engaged and enthused longer. Not so coincidentally, they make for a tighter ship as well.

Recognizing Stars

What’s one of the best bonuses you can pay? Sincere compliments.

Everyone loves it when you notice what they’re doing right. A public shout-out in your daily shift meetings (you have these, don’t you?). Alternatively, for the shy, a quick comment would be welcome. There are all kinds of inexpensive ways to praise: a handwritten note with a candy bar, Employee of the Month recognition, or a formal program with a regular schedule of kudos. Cactus Restaurants (headquartered in Vancouver) recently introduced Golden Plate awards for creating the best-looking plate from pre-selected menu items, and gives Golden Squeegees for the most organized, clean and efficient dish area.

Or consider a paid half-day vacation to reward someone who’s gone above and beyond. Other employees will definitely notice that achievement.