By Kaitlynn Ford

With turnover rates such as those found by the CRFA and the negative impact of employee loss, it’s no wonder finding qualified staff – and keeping them – is a leading concern in the restaurant industry.

According to a 2009 survey of 20 national and regional foodservice chains by the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservice Association, “The average annual turnover rate for an hourly paid employee is 104.8 per cent at a quick-service restaurant and 62.5 per cent at a casual/family dining restaurant.”

Bliss Associates says that the cost and “impact of employee turnover can be grouped into four major categories: 1) costs due to a person leaving, 2) hiring costs, 3) training costs, and 4) lost productivity costs.”, Connecting Mission and Talent, suggests the best way to ensure hiring a qualified chef or cook is to know what you want, how much you are willing to pay, use your networks to identify talent, reference all finalists, and let common sense be your final judge.

Restaurant managers also play a very important role as they will be the ones running the restaurant. According to, “A restaurant without a manager is like a ship without a captain. There’s really no other way than down.”

“It is important to hire someone with several years’ experience working in a restaurant as a waiter/waitress or kitchen helper and he/she should be able to jump in and help fulfill any position in the dining room,” suggests. “An entry level manager will earn between $22,000 to $26,000 a year and a seasoned manager will earn from $30,000 to $40,000.00 per year.”

Consider avenues that attract a large quantity of jobseekers with varied qualifications and skills, such as Toronto’s National Job Fair and Training Expo. The applicants in these venues show initiative and drive by simply attending the event. An added bonus is the sheer number of applicants who will apply for a position with little to no advertising or recruitment effort on the restaurateurs end.

Another factor to consider when hiring employees is the possibility of having a background check performed on the potential candidate just to err on the side of caution. Background checks can provide information on a person’s criminal records, commercial records, and financial records. With regard to employment, specifically, these checks are usually carried out to confirm information listed on an applicants resume or to check their credit records.

According to Tyler Cardy, a hiring manager for Timothy’s World News Café on Danforth Ave., restaurateurs don’t need to perform background checks for their minimum wage jobs. He also says that it shouldn’t be necessary for owners to advertise for their front of the house positions.

Cardy has been a hiring manager for Timothy’s World Coffee in three different locations, since 2006. He started his employment with the franchise at one of their locations at Fairview Mall, in North York, and became an assistant manager there within one year.

It is important to bear in mind the reach of the internet and employment-based websites like and Linked In is the Facebook of business networking websites. These websites serve nearly the same purpose as job fairs and training expos with regard to the volume of applicants and skills, training, and qualification diversity.

Cardy says it is important to consider how long an applicant has held a job for and whether or not there are unusually large gaps between employments.

“If you look at job experience and you see that someone has had four different jobs and they’ve only been there for about two months for each job, you know that this person is not going to be that dependable,” Cardy said.

Conversely, he appreciates when an interviewee has been at a job for a year or more as he feels they will be more reliable. Cardy also looks at the specific jobs people have retained and if they provide any transferable skills.

“If you see that they have customer service skills that’s always a good skill to have,” Cardy said.

Cardy compares bartending and factory work, saying that hiring managers will see bartending and equate it with customer service skills; whereas when they look at factory work they’ll equate it with hard work, speed, and accuracy.

For the Back of the House positions, colleges and universities are a great place to find up-and-coming new talent. Often colleges will have their students complete internship programs as part of the learning experience and a way to gain practical, real-world knowledge in their craft. Hiring a student for an internship program is rewarding for the student, and provides the restaurant with an employee who possesses fresh and current skills and training at little to no cost to the owner’s bottom line.

Restaurateurs can also use a behavioural assessments tool when hiring such as the Dominance Influence Steadiness Compliance assessment or Predictive Index assessment tool.

These behavioural assessment tools usually measure personality characteristics on a number of different levels. They identify the various combinations of these traits in an individual and make it easier for the hiring manager to integrate potential members with fewer negative social interactions. Each of the trait mixtures brings a different value to the workplace.

“Sometimes it seems like people are kind of two-faced,” Cardy said. “The interview will go very well and then you’ll put them on the floor to deal with the customers to take orders and they just don’t want to work sometimes.”

While there are some things you can do prior to hiring an employee to ensure that you don’t make an oversight, Cardy says that you can never be 100 per cent sure about the type of person you’ve decided to take a chance on until they start.

“When you get flooded with resumes, sometimes it’s hard to pick through them all,” Cardy said. “You may see a resume that looks really great but until you meet the person, you don’t really know. Until you see the person work, you don’t really know.”

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