From the “Great Resignation” to the “job crisis”, the decline in hiring in the industry shows little sign of abating. If anything, it’s only evolving. Food and beverage establishments gained just 29,000 jobs in September, meaning restaurants remain at a million jobs below pre-COVID levels. Will this number recover? Are we moving, at least in the short term, towards an industry with fewer workers but better paid? More automation?
While these points are unclear, it is clear that the problem is widespread. In a recent National Restaurant Association survey, 81 percent of seated operators said they were understaffed. The number was 75 percent in fast service. This has led almost 70% of restaurants to reduce their opening hours in the past three months and 46% to reduce their menus. Forty-five percent added that they closed on days they were normally open and a similar check mark (44 percent) reduced seating. So, while restrictions, on the whole, have eased, restaurants find themselves on a delicate line of demand, value and experience. Prices for express service increased 6.9% in August compared to last year. And supply issues, also labor-related in many cases, continue to proliferate as costs rise.
Vivian Wang, CEO of Landed, who provides a mobile app to connect on-time food and retail workers with local employers, caught up QSR to discuss some hiring, recruiting, and work tactics in general to relieve some of the pressure. Landed recently dived into some internal data to take the pulse of the landscape.
Let’s talk about some hiring trends. What were the main conclusions of the Landed data?
We learned a few important things from the data. One of them is that virtual interviews cut overall recruiting time by over 20%. The process of virtual interviews is faster, there is less logistical planning, and it is more popular among job seekers in 2021.
It was interesting to see that ghosting rates were slightly (almost 10%) higher for virtual interviews than in person. Setting up virtual interviews on media that does not require account setup i.e. Facetime instead of Zoom / Google Meet is important, and if such media are not available, go for phone interviews.
Response time matters. Landed data showed that 52% of job seekers are extremely likely to proceed with the interview process if they receive a response from the employer within 24 hours. The initial awareness, from the initial submission of the applicant’s interest to the first day on the job, typically follows a 12-day cycle. When we measured SMS delivery, we found that 45% of applicants responded to the first delivery, 25% to the second delivery, and 20% to the third delivery. Thus, hiring managers should not abandon candidates if they cannot reach them the first time, and add a specific call to action in the job description or title (for example, “virtual interviews” or “Get hired in 24 hours” or “hire immediately”) is also a good way to elicit additional responses from job seekers.
Elaborate on virtual interviews and how they can reduce recruiting time. Why is this a victory for both sides?
The restaurant and hospitality industries are changing faster than ever. It is important to arrange interviews with candidates, whether virtual or in person, within 24-36 hours of the match and expression of interest. The advantages include:
Can be booked faster for applicants who may have other time constraints eg other shifts, school / family schedules. Speed ââis important.
If your location is undergoing renovations or is a new store opening, you’ll need to get a head start on hiring before the location is ready for in-person interviews.
Protect your hiring managers and candidates during a pandemic for health and safety reasons to minimize contact with a large number of candidates with whom they regularly interact in the restaurant / retail industry
Use virtual interviews as a chance to sell candidates for a position and for candidates to ask questions before they come. Face-to-face interviews can be used for hiring logistics and ‘hiring close’
How to avoid these dreaded “phantom rates” with virtual interviews?
Landed sends SMS and email reminders to all applicants who have booked interviews with all key interview information. If any rescheduling needs to take place, we also take care of the two-way communication to save the busy manager time. As mentioned, avoid virtual interview platforms that require candidates to create an account to register (like Zoom). FaceTime or Duo are good examples of those that don’t require any prior setup for an interview.
Talk about the importance of response time. Concretely, for restaurants, would it be wise to set a deadline for managers to come back to candidates?
Applicants are looking for a job, not a job search these days, so responding to applicants within three hours is important to catch applicants while their interest is high. Beyond that, it’s too slow. All managers should either set deadlines within this range or use a tool like Landed. Landed will immediately respond to all questions and messages from candidates as the hiring manager (who may be busy managing catering operations) to quickly engage qualified candidates and drive them to the interview as quickly as possible.
What were the differences between SMS and email delivery?
It is important to meet the candidates where they are already, that is to say on their phone in their SMS. It feels more personalized and leads to a faster turnaround cycle for rentals. The most successful employers are the fastest to connect with candidates. Emails will often be buried; while text messages are still under-penetrated as a form of recruiting communication.
Gen Zers who take on many entry-level roles don’t use email as much, so hiring managers need to meet them where they are.
What would you advise hiring managers who are struggling to reach candidates? Are there ways to address this in the job description?
Diagnose which part of your recruiting funnel is weak. Is it the top of the funnel or the middle or bottom of the funnel. Once you’ve figured out which area is the hardest, experiment with different ways to solve the weakest link. Landed helps you do this, as our client strategists will be able to use the wealth of data we have at each stage of the hiring funnel to optimize your approach: for example, job description views at top rates. conversion of applications, responsiveness to certain messaging models, rental time, etc.
Job description optimizations primarily impact conversion rates at the top of the funnel. For example, moving perks and perks to the top of the job description or incorporating compelling visuals into the job description to make your roles stand out from the crowd.
The question for months for restaurants has really been, what does the worker really want, especially on the hourly side? Is it higher wages? Advantages? Flexibility? What have you seen and how can operators target these needs?
This summer alone, Landed surveyed job applicants to find what they value most about an employer. Almost 80% said they wanted the option to choose their own days and times. This is clearly something employers should emphasize in their job postings and during interviews.
Another priority for candidates was to work for a company that demonstrated a commitment to diversity and inclusiveness. The candidates wanted to see that:
- The company handles diversity issues appropriately with a commitment to celebrating the differences between employees.
- There is a career development path for each employee of the company.
- Leadership encourages diversity and creates a safe space to discuss issues of racism in the workplace.
- Employers must demonstrate this commitment to candidates in their recruiting efforts.
Why do you think the deployment of extended unemployment benefits has hardly moved the needle?
Applicants are looking for more than the amount they will be paid in their next job. There are currently many options for hourly workers, whether in the restaurant and hospitality industry or in other roles like customer support, service, etc. It is important that employers ensure that they pay market wages or above the market for their workers, allow flexibility in working hours, and demonstrate a commitment to diversity and inclusiveness. The constraints that the pandemic introduced for many are still very much present, for example, limited child care, school hours, health considerations and unemployment benefits have not necessarily alleviated these challenges.
So where do you think the hiring battle goes from here? What’s the next big topic we’re all talking about?
The employers who will win are those who think about how they can support the holistic livelihoods of their employees. That’s what we think about at Landed. Money isn’t just about getting a job, it’s just the beginning. Landed is the blue collar, single sign-on livelihood platform for 2.7 billion workers globally. On Landed, blue-collar workers get jobs and will soon have access to fair and transparent financial products, such as access to earned wages, to support their financial well-being and further develop themselves through certification / education programs. . 78 percent of blue collar workers live paycheck to paycheck. Landed breaks this cycle and supports underserved blue collar workers.