It’s no secret that hiring for entry-level positions in the retail and hospitality markets across North America has become incredibly difficult with historically low unemployment in many areas. Add the complexities of trying to woo workers back to these jobs in a post-Covid world, and the situation only worsens. We’ve seen countless stories of ever-climbing starting wages, signing bonuses, and many other benefits to bring back workers. While some businesses may have deep enough pockets to compete in this nature, that isn’t the case for many franchisees who operate in these industries.
There was a time, perhaps long ago, when hiring in retail and hospitality went something like this. An employee submits their two-weeks’ notice, if the employer is lucky, and then the efforts to recruit and hire someone to backfill that position begin, but this is a recruiting practice of a bygone era. What’s needed now is a 365-recruitment approach, where franchisees actively promote themselves as a great place to work within their community and online 365 days a year.
It is no longer enough to post your vacant roles on job boards like Indeed.com and hope for the best. While Indeed is still an essential tool, it should now be only one of the multiple approaches deployed to attract talent to your business. So, what does it take to attract talent in today’s hyper-competitive entry-level job market? You need a multi-method approach, deployed 365 days a year, to finding talent, specifically a strong referral program, presence on local and national job boards, active recruitment content on various social media platforms, and robust local community partnerships. Let’s take a closer look at each tactic.
The younger generations who typically work in entry-level jobs, specifically Generation Z, have very different job search methods than those of even the Millennials, but not to worry, finding Gen Z isn’t that difficult. One need only head over to TikTok to see where they are congregating. TikTok has become a critically important tool in your recruiting arsenal, and many businesses are taking note. Case in point, Chipotle undertook a massive initiative to hire over 10,000 employees across the U.S. in late 2020, and TikTok was an important part of their strategy; in fact, it generated an additional 7% of resumes through that channel, something I’m sure many franchisees would likely welcome. If TikTok isn’t your strong suit, that’s okay. Enlist the support of Gen Z’s who already work for you to understand how the platform works and to help you create short videos for use on TikTok to help attract younger talent.
Additionally, consider leveraging your business’s Facebook page to advertise why your business is an excellent place to work. Seek out community groups on Facebook and join them; you can often post recruitment-specific content on these pages that help create awareness about why your business is a great place to work. LinkedIn, a professional networking powerhouse, is an excellent place to promote positions such as general manager, regional manager, or other professional roles in your business.
While job boards alone won’t solve all your hiring needs, they are still an important tool. However, the job postings of days gone by will no longer cut it. It’s not enough to list the job duties they’ll perform, a starting wage, and all the qualifications they need to work for you. These postings simply won’t work anymore. You need to lead with everything that makes your business a great place to work. What perks do you offer to your employees? Bonuses? Team outings? Efforts to give back to the community? These things stand out and make you an employer of choice among younger demographics. So ditch the traditional job posting, get creative, and lead with what makes your business different. In a sea of job postings, you want potential employees to see why working for your business is better than working for a competitor down the street.
A robust employee referral program tops this 365-recruitment list for one big reason: employee referrals are the single best source of hiring across all industries and business sizes. Employee referrals tend already to be a good fit for your working culture, making them stay longer, decreasing costly turnover, often a hidden cost overlooked on your monthly P&L.
So, what do you need for an effective employee referral program? A simple referral bonus is often all it takes to entice your existing employees to refer their friends. It’s common to pay this referral bonus after the new employees hit their 90-day employment mark; this tactic can protect you if the new employee leaves before the 90 days are up. The other critical ingredient to a successful referral program is awareness among your existing team. Posters in the staff area and messages pushed out weekly on automated scheduling tools are two great options.
Last, but certainly not least, is leveraging the power of partnerships within your community. Consider paying a visit to local high schools, community colleges, and community centers. Working with the leaders in these community institutions to promote your business as a great workplace can help you gain access to community boards, newsletters, and even the chance to participate in local job fairs. Building community relationships isn’t new advice in the franchised world. It has been talked about as a great way to build business for a long time, yet it’s still a relatively untapped tactic for recruitment purposes.
All of the above
The long and the short of it is that recruiting entry-level employees in this day and age requires much more consideration and planning, and it simply must be top of mind 365 days a year if you want to win the war for talent. Taking a hard look at what you offer employees by way of total compensation, not just the hourly wage, is essential. Your workplace culture is the leading driver of why people want to work for you and, more importantly, why they will stay. The ultimate recruitment tool is a culture where your employees feel appreciated for their work and that you provide them with meaningful opportunities to learn new skills and advance their careers. Environments like this make people stay, and not having to hire in the first place is the best place to start.
Laura Darrell brings over 25 years of leadership experience from some of the most iconic brands of our time, with 20 of those years spent in the franchised environment working for both multi-unit franchisees and in senior leadership roles with some of Canada’s most respected restaurant franchisors. She also brings technical insights in organizational leadership focused on how enhanced collaboration between franchisees and franchisors can lead to better business results. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.