Finding the best staff

With a largely transient workforce, keeping great staff in the café and hospitality sector is hard, and recruiting them can be even harder. So how do you find, and keep the best staff?

Tip #1 – Profile the ideal candidate

The first place to look for the qualities of your ideal staff is to your current (and past) best performing and most loved staff members. We’re talking about the staff that always delivered above and beyond expectations, the ones you yourself and your customers would be sad to see leave.

What are they like? What skills and experience do they have? What is different from them and other employees, or other people in general? What puts them in the “superstar” category? It’s highly likely that these staff members share similar qualities. So, be clear on what those qualities are so you can identify them when you see them during the interview process, and perhaps more importantly, when you don’t.

Tip #2 – Ask your best staff for referrals

This is a simple one, but really important. Everyone knows someone, so asking staff who you already know and trust for referrals can be a good way of finding new staff. You could even go as far as to motivate your current employees to help you recruit by paying them a finder’s fee for any successful hires that stay on for a certain period of time. Your employees know the job, they know what the expectations are, and people tend to know other people who are just like them. So, it makes sense to go to those who have already proven they have the skills and personalities you’re looking for.

Tip #3 – Think outside cafe and hospitality experience

Everyone has to start somewhere, so why not hire someone who is just beginning in their career? You get the chance to train them exactly how you want and build an understanding of your expectations from the very start. If they’ve got the basic skills, the personality and the potential, and you’ve got the time to invest in training them, this could be your most successful option for finding the best staff.

Tip #4 – Be clear and defined around the role and expectations

The job description doesn’t have to be too complicated or long, but it should spell out the variety of duties the person will need to undertake while in the role. It should state clearly the reporting relationships, pay rate and also outline the key characteristics, skills and experience that you identified when creating the desired profile. It should also outline the number of hours that are expected to be worked, which leads us to the next tip.

Tip #5 – Give fewer employees more hours, rather than more employees fewer hours

This may seem to fly in the face of the café industry thinking, particularly with such a transient staff base, but if you find the right person who performs well in their job, you’ll want them working more hours. And if you don’t, why would you keep them on at all?  Also, a person working only a few hours each week, will usually take far longer to establish a real connection with their role, their fellow team members, the customers, and you. Their product knowledge, process understanding and confidence in their abilities takes longer too. We know that employees who are more engaged and connected are usually happier and more productive and we all want that! So, consider giving fewer people more hours, rather than more people fewer hours.

Tip #6 – Spread the net far and wide — go multi-channel in your recruiting efforts.

While word of mouth can be a useful tool when it comes to staffing in cafes, the more options you can use to recruit the better. Think about using social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram, and other online options, as this will give you a wider reach for potential staff members. It may seem like a lot of hard work, but the effort you put into recruiting the right staff will pay for itself over the long term.