The Warm Blanket Approach to Welcoming New Employees
The hiring problems of the last year have not subsided. I still see businesses hiring the way they always did. Most business owners know it isn’t like it was in 2019 anymore and that there needs to be a change. Most pizzerias I talk to have switched to online application portals, more thorough training and dedicated incentives with better starting wages.
With all those improvements, the industry still has difficulty acquiring and retaining staff. Many resources say the same things on the topic, except the most obvious one. Here’s a straightforward tip that’s not getting talked about nearly enough: BE NICE.
Be accepting, kind and provide a warm blanket to these new hires coming into your restaurant. Sure, you’re a nice person, and I’m sure your staff is filled with friendly, personable people. But I’m saying as a protocol, as a standard operating procedure, be nice when welcoming new employees.
So, what does that mean?
It means when a new employee has their first day at your pizzeria, it’s over the top welcoming. Do you currently have a fight or flight method? Do you currently push to see how they stack up, maybe even throw them into the hard Friday night from the jump? The old school mentality was this approach would weed out the weak and give new hires a good idea of the speed and beat of this restaurant. I’m saying today it is inadvisable to do that.
Not only should you start slow, but you should also be calculated in the orientation. Have the first day go down in such an accepting manner that everyone has it as part of the job to introduce themselves, make kind dialogue and build rapport. Do this, so they choose you. Do this so you can start to train; otherwise, you’ll scare them off before they even clock in. Make your workplace the most inviting one by far.
Also, this costs nothing to do.
Building rapport does not start after they get hired.
Even when they apply, the new applicant walks in and says, “I want an application.” Do you simply give them an application? Instead, I suggest, sit them down and have them fill it out in-store. Find them a spot in the restaurant to fill it out comfortably by offering them lunch. If nothing else, get them a drink and have each person go by and say hi to them while they’re applying. Make it so over the top welcoming that this person does not go to five other places to apply.
If this approach is a no-brainer for you, great; just do it. If this feels over the top or inauthentic, then ask if you do have friendly people that work for you or not. If you don’t, be the change, act kindly, and expect your staff to follow.
In this warm blanket approach, you must be keenly aware that your applicants are interviewing you. It is not the reverse anymore. Sure, you’re going to want to evaluate and have a high-level person who could do the job. Still, there is such an abundance of jobs that any applicant has their pick of the litter, and you need to stand out. Not just financially, but also on a human level by being approachable, kind and accepting. By showing that your restaurant is somewhere that this person looks forward to being an employee.
Work can no longer be the opposite of happy home life. It needs to be an extenuation of it. The restaurants that do this, without sacrificing standards or quality, are the ones who will come out of this pandemic and hiring crisis better for the journey.
MIKE BAUSCH is the owner of Andolini’s Pizzeria in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Instagram: @mikeybausch