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As a restaurateur, you already know that finding good employees for your restaurant is hard work and an investment of time and money. One way to try and make this less painful is by empowering your existing staff to recruit for you with an employee referral program. Hiring from an employee referral is both cheaper and faster, and sees lower restaurant employee turnover rates.

How does an employee referral program help your restaurant?

By empowering your staff to refer employees, you are saving money spent on other recruiting tools. You can often interview potential candidates without having spent the time to post or advertise the job opening.

A referred hire often trains faster than a non-referred hire. They are starting their first shift with a relationship already in place, the person who referred them. This helps a new hire feel comfortable asking for help and they integrate more quickly into your restaurant’s culture.

Referred employees tend to have lower turnover rates. They are coming to the job with more insight into what it involves because they’ve had the chance to talk to employees and get an honest description of what the job is like. Simply put, they know what they’re getting into.

Added bonus is that employees who refer others to work at your restaurant, tend to be better employees themselves. They are more invested in your restaurant, and its success.

What steps can you take to have an employee referral program?

Consider setting up your employee referral program to have tiered rewards. Promote it as a nice way to boost that waiter or waitress salary. An employee gets some type of reward at the time of hiring, and another after a length of time such as 3 or 6 months. This incentivizes people to only refer people they are serious about.  

Make sure whatever program you design works well for all your employees, both front of house and back of the house. Set up a tracking tool that is easy for you to use and always follow through on rewards.

server giving guest food

Include the referral program as part of all employee training. By thinking of this program as part of your employee handbook, it becomes part of your restaurant’s culture, and people are thinking of it all the time, not just when you’ve lost an employee and are in a pinch.

Also, always follow up with whoever made a referral. Let your staff know that you’re paying attention and taking their referrals seriously. Touch base with a referral promptly, and let the employee who made the referral know that you have followed up. Even if every referral isn’t the right fit, your employees know you’re listening and paying attention.

Have you found that you’ve hired good employees based on employee referrals?

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Kristin lives on the West Side of Providence with her wine blogger husband. When she's not co-hosting their monthly wine tastings, she's planning her next travel adventure and daydreaming about Spanish jamón. She can often be found pouring over travel guides at her favorite neighborhood spot, Nick's on Broadway.
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