Thoughts from the Road: Hiring Food Service Workers in the Face of Adversity

May 6, 2020
Checkr Editor

There is no debating the fact that COVID-19 has impacted us all. The restaurant and food-service industries have been hit in a very unique way, though. Restaurants weren’t told to cease all operations but they weren’t allowed to stay fully open either. They found themselves in a strange, grey zone.

Restaurants open in this grey zone are facing two major challenges. First, they must find new sources of revenue. Second, they must get food into the hands of consumers. Though there are no right answers or silver bullets, we can band together and share insights on adapting hiring strategies for food-service businesses right now.

On Thursday, April 30th, Checkr was joined by HigherMe to discuss hiring food service employees in the face of adversity. Derek Williamson, the CEO of HigherMe, started his career as a multi-unit franchise owner and still runs a bakery in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada. He’s experienced firsthand the challenges of hiring and managing employees in a high-turnover industry firsthand, which has made him passionate about changing the way people hire for positions where soft skills trump resume qualifications. 

During the Roundtable, we discussed how COVID-19 has impacted restaurants, new service models, and industry predictions on what will happen next. Three key takeaways from the session stood out: 

Delivery & Pick-Up Roles Are Here to Stay 

Scott Jennings, Director of Industry Strategy at Checkr said, “This is not the end of the world for the restaurant business. Even with these major set-backs, there is light at the end of the tunnel.  Restaurants are adapting to the COVID-19 crisis with new service models.” Dine-in-service may be shut down, but the reality is food delivery (or pickup) has become an essential industry just by itself.  The challenge for food-service & restaurant chains is how to scale their workforce to support the essential need for food delivery.  Most companies that have publicly announced they are hiring are inundated with job applications, and the recruiting team is working 4 or 5 times as hard to process this high volume of applications. 

Technology Must Support Consumer Preferences

“Whether through a third party or in-house take-out services, a lot of restaurants were using delivery as a secondary revenue stream.  The big shift now is that delivery must become the major profit center for businesses because of both safety concerns and consumer preferences,” said Derek Williamson the CEO of HigherMe.”  Any time consumer preferences change, businesses supporting the consumer must adapt.  The only way a food service company will be able to keep up with the changing preferences of the consumer is through modern, agile, technology solutions.  Coming out of COVID-19, the companies that have built solutions to allow them to be flexible (for instance switch from dining in, to delivery with a push of a button) will win out.  

Candidates are Crucial in the Food Service Hiring Funnel

As restaurants hire on the delivery side of the business, filling the candidate funnel is important. HigherMe has offered restaurants a free tool to connect with candidates over text called “Text-to-Apply.” Additionally, background screenings delayed due to court closures can cause slowdowns in the hiring process. In response, Checkr has offered a COVID 19 screening package that helps companies hire during this time.

If you missed this session, be sure to watch the recording to learn more.

In light of the rapidly changing policies, hiring challenges, and unrest, we are holding weekly roundtable discussion webinars to keep an open conversation going. Register for the sessions and see other upcoming webinars here

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