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Hiring Seasonal Millennials: How Restaurants Can Rely on Big Data to Build a Better Workforce

Did you get the restaurant help you were hoping for this summer? Did you rely on your gut to put it together? There’s a better way--namely, in Talent Science--perhaps to approach this year’s holiday help, and certainly in time for next summer’s workforce.
More than 40 percent of restaurant employees fell between the ages of 16 and 24 in 2013, according to the National Restaurant Association’s 2015 Restaurant Industry Forecast, meaning that a large number of its employees are also likely high school or college students. Restaurant sales are anticipated to “hit a record high in 2015” in response to economic improvements, which will allow the industry to employ a projected 1.8 million more people than it did ten years ago. 
Based on this analysis, it is logical to conclude that the restaurant industry was a primary source of employment for millennials who sought to obtain summer jobs this year. Most hiring managers selected and trained their summer workforce utilizing traditional resume scanning and “gut instinct” screening methods. However, these restaurant organizations may already be discovering that some of the millennials employed in such positions as hostesses, waiters and line cooks are not as good of a fit as they originally hoped. If decision-makers had looked to technology as a primary resource for pinpointing the best applicants, more effective methods could have been utilized to help create a successful summer employee base. 
In industries where the most impactful factors on revenue are service and customer experience, the commitment level and effectiveness of employees plays a crucial role in an organization’s success. When considering an applicant for a job, it is easy to evaluate their skills and past work experience utilizing the usual interview methods. While certainly important, these techniques do not provide visibility into the individual’s core behavioral attributes, which are the most reliable predictors of their potential success. Talent science technology offers an innovative option to help restaurant decision-makers assess these traits to better select candidates for each unique role.
Talent science utilizes a combination of big data, analytics and performance metrics to make hiring recommendations that take the guess-work out of selecting the right applicant. Restaurant organizations first evaluate the existing employee base to draw parallels between certain behavioral, cognitive and cultural characteristics and superior performance in a particular position. Then, all future applicants complete the same assessment, and results are compared to automatically identify the best fit candidates. This allows hiring managers to weed out any potential high-risk applicants before the interview process even begins, narrowing it down to the select few that the technology deems a good match for both the organization’s culture and the daily requirements of the job.
By filling open positions with employees that are most likely to succeed in a given role based on their unique behavioral attributes, restaurant organizations stand to experience benefits in two different capacities. Primarily, talent science allows organizations to save time and money by reducing employee turnover. By correctly matching the right person with the right position from the onset, managers will not waste resources repeatedly filling the same positions. Increasing employee retention also helps to generate cost savings, as replacing an employee is equally as taxing on an organization’s monetary resources.
Investing in the right people also allows restaurants to provide an exceptional dining experience for patrons. In this increasingly competitive industry, even the best food will not keep a restaurant organization profitable if the service is sub-par. Each interaction with a customer impacts their brand loyalty and the likelihood that they will return, and with a higher performing workforce, companies are positioned to provide this superior level of service. Patron satisfaction also has a direct impact on revenue, so establishing a reputation for excellence will help to attract new customers and promote repeat business, ultimately leading to larger profits.
With total employment in the restaurant industry projected to hit 15.7 million by 2025, according to the same forecast from the National Restaurant Association, it is likely that restaurants will continue to be a major source of employment for millennials over the next decade. Hiring managers have an opportunity to utilize this year’s summer workforce to gather data on who performed best, thereby establishing a benchmark for hiring during the next summer season. If restaurant organizations discover that a particularly efficient summer staff is in place, a similar approach can be taken with talent science to identify desirable behavioral characteristics for year-round staffing.
Next year, instead of simply choosing the first students who inquire about open positions for the summer, hiring managers can rely on big data and analytics to make decisions that are based on predictive models. This will ensure that the right people are selected for the right positions, helping restaurant organizations to create a top performing workforce that will keep customers coming back long after the summer months have ended.
The insights above were provided by Infor Software Solutions, specialists in Talent Science.
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