How social media is becoming the smart new recruitment & HR channel for restaurants & bars

According to Big Hospitality this week, the UK hospitality industry is facing a looming recruitment crisis with as many as 660,000 new hospitality positions needing to be filled by 2020.  The article then proceeded to unveil the results of a recent poll which asked where the problem lies with finding new staff.   The largest group of respondents, a whopping 42%, thought that young people just ‘didn’t have the right work ethic anymore’ with 21% stating that business owners should be more proactive in their efforts to attract new talent. 

I’ve got to say that I’m more inclined to agree that businesses must work harder at recruitment and stop blaming young people for the issue.  I think one of the problems with recruitment is the fact that most hospitality businesses are stuck in a very limited mindset when it comes to attracting and retaining new employees.  For example, up to 90% of people employed in this industry are Millienials who have grown up with the Internet as their main channel of communications, yet most HR departments have still not grasped the recruitment communications opportunity that is now being offered by the likes of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Linkedin.  


Only a few weeks ago, I was delighted to see that a restaurant client of mine has started to use Twitter and Facebook to speak directly to potential recruits about working for the restaurant group.  They’ve already started to make smart use of posts about people who work in the business, the social activities people can get involved in and the perks available to staff.  As an added step, I’ve encouraged them to take more of this communication to Instagram where you have a very high proportion of users who match their exact recruit demographic.   I’ve also seen Jaime’s Italian using Instagram in a very smart way, sharing many dozens of images of the team and life behind the pass.   I believe this drip feed approach to showcasing the business culture and ethos can form a powerful and engaging part of any recruitment drive within this industry.

I also read recently about the Red Robin chain in the USA who supply Apple iPads to every venue as a way to deliver staff education and to help the front of house team stay fully up-to-date with the latest menu and bar items.  Now that there are lots of cost-effective tethering solutions for docking tablet computers to bar or service areas, there’s absolutely no reason why businesses shouldn’t make more use of these tools in a restaurant or bar space.   This type of education solution helps people to tap into your training resources or online groups at the point where they are really needed.

I believe these solutions offer a fantastic way to stay relevant to younger recruits.  If you were a smartphone connected, always on twenty-something, how would you prefer to get your job briefings?  Via some dusty old A4 hand outs or via an online newsfeed that keeps you up-to-date and allows you to interact with your co-workers and management 24/7.  At its simplest, businesses can create a social media content strategy that includes agreed approaches to recruitment messaging on the various channels.   On the HR education side, it's possible to set-up private Facebook groups or private Pinterest boards to help improve information sharing on a daily basis.  Even Twitter accounts can be setup on a ‘members only’ basis where your tweets can be read only by people you have verified.    Many other business sectors are already switching on to the fact that social media can serve as a fantastic recruitment and HR communications channel.   Perhaps it’s time that the hospitality industry made more efforts to do the same.  All it can take to get an initiative like this off the ground is some strategic thinking and social media training for your HR team.  It’s either that, or keep putting the blame on young people.