Tips for Attracting Employees to Your Business

Tips for Attracting Employees to Your Business

By David Faro

Imagination and creativity are the tools the best organizations use to solve problems. Good planning, goal setting and project management round out the toolkit, but without a focus on originality and inventiveness, an organization risks dulling its competitive edge.

This year, Washington Hospitality Association’s member survey indicates that finding a solid labor pool to sustain operations is proving even more difficult for hospitality employers now than it was two years ago when we last conducted our member survey.

Despite the challenges, solid employees are out there looking for work. You’re going to have to get creative about finding them.

Tom Diller, owner and operator of The Lopez Islander Resort, says that finding good labor in an isolated market like the San Juan Islands can be difficult.

“The demand for employees across the state is significantly higher than the supply,” Diller says.

“We took advantage of some introductions that were made at Association hiring events, we followed up with some of the workforce development partners we met, and we were connected with a terrific manager who assists in managing summer operations for The Islander.”

Tom now understands.

“It isn’t traditionally how we have found employees, but the creativity of these hospitality hiring events worked,” he reported.

His property got inspired, reached out to their professional networks, leveraged their Association membership, and solved their labor problem for the summer. You can, too.

Mine your network. Partnerships and networking are critical tools for finding the employees you need to fill the positions you have right now.

It’s August, and if you have hiring issues they are very likely immediate and serious.

Retention might also be an issue for you right now if the great employees that you hired in June just decided to spend the rest of the summer in the Olympics jumping off rocks instead of manning the line. So now they are gone, and you need a replacement yesterday.

Get creative. Stephanie Schoo, marketing and communications director for FareStart, invites people to consider her organization when addressing labor problems.

“Call FareStart the day that you need assistance,” she urges. “We will partner with you for creative solutions that help move real people into real positions.”

After employees complete FareStart’s Adult Culinary Program, 90 percent find employment in the first week after graduating and more than three quarters of employees are still in place after six months.

It’s a creative program that works and has a consistent stream of excellently trained employees graduating all year.

Many employers forget as well that their team members are one of the best labor recruiting sources they have.

Incentivizing staff to introduce new employees and motivating them to encourage retention has worked for more than a few organizations.

One manager at a full-service restaurant in the South Sound has a simple plan that came from outside the box.

“I told my staff that if they brought me a new employee and I hired them, I would buy them a steak dinner. I followed that up by telling them that if their friend stayed for six months, the recommending employee would get a $50 bill on the anniversary of employment,” he said.

He quickly filled out his staff with eight extra servers at the beginning of peak season, and all of them are on track to stay the whole summer. Even better, if there are issues, the referring friend now keeps on the new hire because they now have a vested interest in their friend’s success.

“It’s actually a lot of fun, and handing out $50 bills is personally rewarding,” he said.

“My summer retention plan cost me a few steak dinners and four hundred dollars cash. It was nothing compared to the cost of losing, hiring and retraining one new server mid-summer. I am going to do this every year from now on. We just needed a simple, inventive solution, and this seems to be it.”

Always be hiring. Never stop. If the right employee walks in on Oct. 7? It doesn’t matter if it’s a downtime. Try to make it work to hire this great fit. If you don’t hire them, someone else soon will.

Look everywhere! Participate in job fairs, reach out to technical schools, post an ad in local newspapers and on job boards. There’s more to the skilled candidate search than Craigslist, and if you limit yourself to the free digital classifieds, you’ll end up short in skilled labor.

Let people know what makes you special. Whether it’s an outstanding safety record, a kitchen equipped with the latest equipment and technology solutions, possible training and advanced education opportunities, or even competitive compensation, spotlight the aspects of your business that set you apart from the other people competing for employees. It is those things that make you a great employer.

Call the Education Foundation. Washington Hospitality’s EF brings a large number of resources to the table to help members find, train and retain great employees. Check out the website at or call 800.225.7166 to learn more.

With these recruiting tips, you’ll have some tools to navigate the skilled labor shortage and stay ahead of the competition. Most importantly, always remember: Never stop. You must always be on the lookout for talent. Also, remember, every time you bring a new person onto your team, the whole team changes. Hire wisely, plan ahead, and build your dream team step by step. Your prize lineup is out there and ready to work. Go get ’em!

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