Innovative Strategies for Attracting High School Workers to Your Restaurant

Traditionally, high school workers have been staples of the restaurant workforce. But in the last twenty years, the percentage of high school students holding jobs has dropped from over 30% to less than 20%. Since the most recent classes of high schoolers have had a unique upbringing in the last ten years, restaurants must look beyond the standard “We’re Hiring” window sign to gain their attention. Here are five innovative strategies to entice high-school talent to your restaurant:

Get Smart with Social Media

While Facebook has been the default social media tool for many businesses, especially smaller ones, it is no longer the most popular platform for young generations. In fact, YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, and Snapchat all rank higher in usage among teenagers. Help these workers connect to your restaurant on at least one of these video-based platforms and start creating content!

Feature your current employees, give a behind-the-scenes look, and showcase what a job at your restaurant can offer workers. It may seem daunting to keep up with newer social media trends, but staying active on just one new platform can signal to teens that you are willing to adapt and can be an employer they can relate to.

Provide a Why

The youngest generation has a unique set of qualities. They are technologically savvy, entrepreneurial, hungry to make their mark, and expert Googlers. Why would they work at your restaurant when they could just as easily set up a website and embark on their own side hustle?

What training can you offer? Is there a career path that you can groom them for? Is your restaurant actively involved in giving back to the community? Show them opportunities that you can offer that they couldn’t find on their own.

Keep Your Pay Competitive

Current high schoolers have lived through, and seen their parents struggle with, two major economic events. Unsurprisingly, they will not shy away from discussions about pay. If your job advertisements are missing a competitive pay range, high schoolers won’t bother to apply. Avoid lowballing them just because of their age. If you give them the right incentives, you might find that their motivation and hustle make them some of your most valuable workers.

Encourage Referrals

If you have a few high schoolers already working for you and need to fill out your hourly staff even more, referrals are a great way to go! Create a referral program and offer appealing bonuses to any employee who refers a friend who gets hired. We’ve got a quick guide on referral programs here.

Offer Flexibility

It may be time to reconsider what shift requirements you have in place. If you can give these workers some say in their own schedule, they’ll be more willing to join the team. Be flexible during stressful school obligations like finals or college application season.

Have the Right Restaurant Managers in Place

Having restaurant managers who are willing to coach and mold young talent is key to building a strong team. Reach out to Horizon Hospitality’s restaurant recruiters to learn how we can bring restaurant management talent to your company.

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