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Temporary Restaurant Staffing: Meeting Short-Term Employment Needs

8 Mar 2024

When you're in the food service business, handling employee turnover and temporary restaurant staffing is a must. But let's be honest, it's no piece of cake. The way you tackle finding, interviewing, hiring, and training those temporary restaurant workers defines whether they'll thrive or just fizzle out.

This guide is your golden ticket to ensuring those temp hires fit snugly into your business and leave with a smile on their face. We're talking about keeping things positive and productive here!

So, what's on the menu today, you ask? Well, we're serving up some hard facts with restaurant staffing statistics, laying out the pros and cons of hiring temporary restaurant staff, spilling the beans on how to attract top-notch candidates, giving you the lowdown on screening them like a pro, and showing you what to do before extending that all-important offer. Plus, we'll whip those newbies into shape with some killer training tips. Let's do this!

Pros and cons of hiring temporary restaurant workers

What's the deal with these short-term hires? Well, as the name suggests, temporary restaurant staffing means bringing people on board for a limited time.

In the restaurant industry, this could mean getting extra hands on deck during busy seasons (check out our guide on hiring seasonal workers for more on this), filling in for regular staff who are out of commission, or beefing up your team for special shindigs. Picture this: a ski lodge needing more staff for those bustling winter months or a restaurant covering shifts for an employee dealing with a family emergency.

But hold up, it's not all sunshine and rainbows. Like everything else, there's a flip side to temporary staffing. Let's dish out both the perks and the pitfalls, shall we?

Pros of temporary restaurant staffing:

  • Access to a flexible labor pool: You can tap into temporary workers as needed, adjusting your staffing levels to match the demand without any long-term commitments.
  • No need for expensive perks: Since temporary workers aren't permanent staff, you're off the hook for costly benefits like paid time off or health insurance.
  • Option to outsource: You can hand off your temporary staffing needs to a restaurant recruiting agency, which is super handy for those last-minute or short-term gigs.

Cons of temporary restaurant staffing:

  • Potential lack of dedication: Temporary workers might not show the same level of care and attention to your guests as your permanent staff, which could affect the overall dining experience.
  • High fees: If you're using a restaurant staffing agency, those convenience fees can add up, eating into your budget.
  • Training needs: Temporary workers still need to get up to speed on their workflows and procedures, which can feel like a hefty task, especially when they're already swamped.

TIP: Training temporary staff can feel like a real uphill battle, especially when your restaurant POS (Point of Sale) system isn't pulling its weight. Imagine the frustration when it's not optimized for your workflows or doesn't play nicely with your payments system. But fear not! An easy-to-use and intuitive POS and payments system can make all the difference, making staff training a breeze and ensuring smooth service for your guests. We'll explore the benefits of a restaurant POS system a little later!

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How to attract top restaurant staff

When it comes to hiring temporary restaurant staff, timing is critical. These candidates know the gig is temporary, so they're not scouring the job boards months in advance. Aim to kick off your search no more than a couple of months before you actually need someone on board. That way, you're fishing when the fish is ready to bite! Here are some tips to get you started:

Step 1: Craft an irresistible job ad

You've got to nail that job ad to snag the cream of the crop for your temporary positions. It's your first chance to catch the eye of potential candidates and reel 'em in for the interview stage. Here's the lowdown on creating a killer job ad:

  • Keep it honest and accurate: Your job description should be like a good meal—honest and satisfying. Make sure it clearly outlines the responsibilities and duration of the gig. Keep it concise, though; no one wants to wade through paragraphs of jargon.
  • Set the scene: Paint a picture of your establishment in just a few sentences. Showcase what makes it stand out in the culinary crowd.
  • Spell out the role: Hit 'em with the specifics. Use bullet points for easy scanning and list the day-to-day tasks they'll be tackling.
  • Qualifications and skills: Lay out what you're looking for in your ideal candidate. What are the must-haves and nice-to-haves? Be clear about it. Maybe it's previous experience in the food service industry. Or, maybe you're looking for restaurant employees with excellent customer service skills.
  • Contact info: Don't leave your future restaurant employees hanging! Provide a link or email address where they can shoot over their resume.

And here's a pro tip: Mention if there's a chance for a full-time gig down the line. Top-notch candidates might see the temporary role as a foot in the door for something more permanent.

Remember, honesty is key. A transparent job ad helps candidates make informed decisions, which means you'll attract serious contenders ready to dive into the kitchen.

Step 2: Get the word out

Now that you've crafted the perfect job ad, it's time to spread the word far and wide! Here's how:

  • Online job boards: Post your ad on popular job sites like Monster, Simply Hired, Seasonal Jobs, and Poached to reach a wide audience of potential candidates.
  • Social media: Don't forget to leverage your restaurant's social media presence! Publish a post or story to let your followers know that you're hiring staff for your restaurant. Encourage them to share the post with their networks to help spread the word even further.
  • Restaurant staffing agencies: Don't overlook the assistance of a professional restaurant staffing agency. They can help connect you with qualified candidates quickly and efficiently.
  • Ask for referrals: Good employees often know other good employees. Don't hesitate to ask your current staff if they know anyone qualified and interested in a temporary restaurant employee gig. Referrals can be a great way to find candidates who are already vetted by someone you trust.

Remember, the more visibility your job ad gets, the better chance you have of finding the perfect temporary restaurant staff members. Let's get those applications rolling in!

Step 3: Screen your candidates

Now that you've cast your net and gathered some potential candidates, it's time to separate the wheat from the chaff. Here's how to screen your temporary restaurant staffing candidates effectively:

  • Review resumes and applications: Take a deep dive into each candidate's resume and application. Look for relevant work experience, skills, and any extracurricular activities or accomplishments that give you insight into their personality and work ethic.
  • Listen to your intuition: Sometimes, your gut feeling can be a powerful tool in the screening process. Pay attention to any red flags or positive vibes you get from reviewing candidates' materials. They may not have experience, but they could be brilliant for the restaurant industry, so go with your gut.

With a clear game plan and a keen eye, you'll be well on your way to finding temporary staff who not only have the skills but also fit seamlessly into your restaurant's culture. 

Step 4: Tailor your interviews to the role

Every position in the restaurant industry requires a unique set of skills and personality traits. Here's how to ensure your interviews are finely tuned to each role you're hiring for:

  • Understand the role: Take time to thoroughly understand the specific demands of the position you're hiring for, whether it's a chef, bartender, server, host, or restaurant management. Identify the key skills and attributes your temporary employees need to excel in that role.
  • Structure your interview: Design your interview questions and activities to assess candidates' suitability for the role. For instance, if you're hiring servers, focus on their ability to multitask, remain composed under pressure, and engage with customers.
  • Simulate real-life scenarios: Consider incorporating practical assessments or role-playing exercises into your interviews. For example, simulate a busy Friday night for server candidates to see how they handle the pressure.
  • Check references: Once you've identified a potential candidate, conduct thorough background checks and reach out to previous employers for references. This step helps verify their qualifications and performance in past roles.

By tailoring your interviews to each specific role and conducting comprehensive background checks, you'll be better equipped to find the ideal candidate who not only meets but exceeds your expectations. Let's find that perfect fit for your team!

Step 5: Navigate the legal landscape

Before diving headfirst into the hiring process, it's crucial to understand the legalities surrounding restaurant staffing. Here's how to ensure you're on the right side of the law:

Each country has its own set of rules and regulations governing labor practices, including those specific to the restaurant industry. Take the time to familiarize yourself with the legal requirements in your country. Fortunately, there are plenty of resources available to help you navigate labor laws and regulations. Consider checking out the following:

For the USA:

For Canada:

For Australia:

For the UK:

By staying informed and understanding the legal landscape, you can ensure that your restaurant staffing practices comply with the law and avoid potential pitfalls down the road.

Take control with a responsive restaurant POS

Host with confidence when you rely on Epos Now’s dedicated restaurant POS. Process multichannel sales (from in-house, takeaway, and delivery) all in one place!

Step 6: Determine the right salary for restaurant staff

Finding the sweet spot for your temporary restaurant staff's salary is crucial for attracting top talent while staying within your budget. Here's how to nail down the perfect compensation package:

  • Market research: Look into what other restaurants in your region and category are paying employees in similar roles. This will give you a benchmark to ensure your offer is competitive.
  • Tipping structure: Consider your restaurant's tipping system. Will temporary workers be eligible for tip-outs on the shifts they work? Factor this into your salary calculation.
  • Additional benefits or perks: Think beyond just the salary. Can you offer any extra benefits or perks to sweeten the deal? This could include meal discounts, flexible scheduling, or opportunities for advancement.
  • Service fees: If you're using a restaurant staffing agency, keep in mind their service fees when determining the maximum rate you can offer for temporary workers.

By offering a competitive wage and considering other incentives, you'll maximize your chances of attracting qualified candidates while ensuring your budget stays intact. It's all about finding that perfect balance!

Training your temporary staff

Congratulations on securing your temporary hires! Now it's time to get them up to speed and ready to rock their roles. Here's how to ensure they're well-prepared:

Education and training materials

Provide your temporary staff with educational materials to help them familiarize themselves with your restaurant and its operations. Consider creating a pamphlet or cheat sheet covering essential information such as:

  • Restaurant facts: Menu highlights, busiest hours, popular and profitable items, sourcing information, and key staff members' details.
  • Operational instructions: Explain how the front and back of the house collaborate, along with each team member's roles and responsibilities. 

Demonstration and shadowing

Pair your temporary hires with experienced staff members for hands-on learning. Allow them to shadow a full-time employee to observe and learn the ropes firsthand.

POS and KDS training

Your restaurant POS system and Kitchen Display System (KDS) are vital tools. Provide comprehensive training on how to use them effectively, tailored to each role:

  • For hosts: Teach them how to manage reservations, seat guests, and navigate the floor plan.
  • For servers: Train them on order input, table management, and processing payments.
  • For kitchen staff: Ensure they understand how to use the KDS, including updating order statuses promptly.

Remember, with user-friendly systems like Epos Now's restaurant POS system, training your temporary staff becomes a breeze. By investing in their education and providing hands-on guidance, you'll set them up for success and ensure seamless operations for your restaurant. Let's get those newcomers trained and ready to shine!

How can a restaurant POS help your temporary staff?

Implementing a reliable restaurant POS system can be a game-changer for temporary restaurant staff. Here's how it can streamline operations and empower your short-term hires:

  • Easy-to-use interface: Many modern POS systems are designed with user-friendly interfaces that are intuitive and straightforward. This means that even temporary staff members can quickly learn how to navigate the system with minimal training.
  • Efficient order management: A restaurant POS allows servers to input orders directly into the system, eliminating the need for handwritten tickets. This reduces errors and speeds up the ordering process, ensuring prompt service for your guests.
  • Real-time communication: With a POS system in place, communication between front and back-of-house staff becomes seamless. Orders are sent directly to the kitchen or bar, minimizing delays and ensuring that food and drinks are prepared promptly.
  • Table management: Restaurant POS systems often come equipped with table management features that allow hosts and servers to seat guests and manage table assignments efficiently. Temporary staff can easily access floor plans and make real-time adjustments to accommodate changing reservations and walk-ins.
  • Payment processing: Processing payments quickly and securely is essential in the fast-paced restaurant environment. POS systems streamline this process, allowing temporary staff to process payments, split checks, and handle tips efficiently—all while ensuring PCI compliance and data security.
  • Training support: Many restaurant POS providers offer comprehensive training resources and support materials to help onboard new staff members quickly. From video tutorials to step-by-step guides, these resources can empower temporary hires to learn the system and start contributing to your restaurant's success right away.

In summary, a restaurant POS system not only simplifies day-to-day operations but also empowers temporary staff to perform their roles effectively and confidently. By leveraging the features and functionalities of a modern POS system, you can ensure a seamless and efficient experience for both your team and your guests.

Turning temporary into terrific

Running a restaurant isn't easy, especially when it comes to handling temporary staffing needs. With the right approach, you can turn short-term employment challenges into opportunities for success.

From crafting compelling job ads to navigating the legal landscape and providing top-notch training, every step of the hiring process plays a crucial role in finding and retaining the best temporary staff for your restaurant. By following these steps and leveraging the power of a reliable restaurant POS system, you can ensure that your temporary hires not only fit seamlessly into your team but also contribute to the smooth and efficient operation of your establishment.

Whether you're gearing up for a busy season, covering shifts for absent employees, or hosting special events, remember that temporary staffing doesn't have to be a headache. With the right approach and a dash of creativity, you can transform short-term hires into valued members of your restaurant family. Let's toast to staffing success and serving up unforgettable dining experiences together!

Like this blog? Check out our additional restaurant resources, including our restaurant manager duties guide and our guide on how many members your restaurant needs.


Ready to streamline your restaurant operations? Talk to our team about implementing a powerful POS system today!

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