Restaurant owners and managers can probably tell you the story of the first time they interviewed or trained seasonal help. As you can imagine, different rules apply when the employee is on staff temporarily instead of a long-term career.
The restaurant industry is used to a higher turnover rate than other service industries, and leaders have a tendency to force productivity from new hires rather quickly. The question always arises when the college students come home and the high school students start looking for jobs: How interested in my company will they be? How much training should I give them? Do I really want them to have my recipes and trade secrets?
Follow these simple rules for interviewing and keeping seasonal employees:
1. Summer time for the student is spread thin between the family, friends and work. It’s important to understand your employees’ schedule and priorities. Ask interview questions that will help you gain understanding of their expectation regarding commitments other than work: “Tell me about your plans for the summer.”
2. Don’t schedule your seasonal employees to work every weekend or holiday shift. Give them time to have some fun and you’ll prevent yourself from being caught shorthanded.
3. Train seasonal help to be experts in a few things, not the entire operation. If you invest too much in seasonal training, the season may be over before the employee proves lucrative.
4. Build rapport with the seasonal help. Gear some of their duties to whatever might help them in their future career. For example, a marketing major may want to learn how you promote your restaurant. Encourage them to make suggestions for your business.
5. Strive to allow your seasonal help to return to work for you during all breaks from school. It’s nice to have vacation relief during the winter and spring breaks too. It’s productive to have trained staff return rather than starting from scratch every summer.
When operators think of seasonal help, it’s frequently the students that come to mind. Remember that there is a job pool of senior citizens also looking for temporary employment. Seniors are allowed to work a minimum number of hours and still collect their Social Security benefits. More importantly, they offer a great perspective and point of view. Work with your local senior clubs to help staff your operation for short blocks of time when full time workers may not be interested or have time to work.