Seasonal Staffing Strategies: Attracting, Training, and Retaining Top Restaurant Talent

Seasonal Staffing Strategies: Attracting, Training, and Retaining Top Restaurant Talent
For restaurants, the holidays can indicate a spike or a lull in guests. Learn how to create a winning atmosphere for your seasonal staff, and set your team up for success for either outcome.
by Natalie Zunker Nov 21, 2023 — 3 min read
Seasonal Staffing Strategies: Attracting, Training, and Retaining Top Restaurant Talent

On the heels of a years-long labor shortage, restaurant staffing is near pre-pandemic levels, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, signaling some ease for operators.

But as the holiday season approaches, many restaurants are preparing for a spike in demand, especially those in locations that draw tourists for shopping and celebrations, such as New York City, Chicago, and Boston. In other locations, the holidays spark a slow period due to consumers’ preference to spend more time cooking with family and friends at home.

In either scenario, whether you’re forecasting a busier or slower season than usual, hiring and managing staffing for your restaurant can be a challenge during the holidays.  

You may be wondering how to incentivize seasonal workers to apply. Perhaps you’re looking for ways to train new staff quickly or how to manage your restaurant efficiently during busy times and slow periods so that employees are likely to stay. Offering competitive pay and added benefits and staffing your restaurant according to demand patterns are just a few ways you can be sure to create an atmosphere that benefits your team and your restaurant this season

Offer competitive pay and benefits.

For restaurant employees, pay, benefits, and working conditions are all weighed factors when considering a new opportunity. And it’s why many restaurant workers left their jobs during the Great Resignation. Still today, low wages remain a top reason why restaurant workers seek other employment. 

In response, hourly restaurant wages rose to $17.55 in 2022. Because this number is simply an average, it’s important to know what a competitive wage is for your state and city. Access the Square Payroll Index for regularly updated hourly earnings and base pay across different regions in the United States to ensure a fair wage for your restaurant workers.

In addition to offering competitive pay, consider offering overtime for busy holidays or allowing employees who work Christmas or New Years Eve the option to take other days off to be with their friends and family, and create staffing schedules so that employees can make significant earnings without risking burnout. 

Staff according to your restaurant data.

For your employees, not having enough tables due to your restaurant being overstaffed can have a large impact on their take-home pay. Conversely, not having enough team members working can create a hectic atmosphere behind the counter or on the floor, which can impact service and their tips as a result. That’s why it’s equally important to get your staffing right, whether you’re preparing for more or fewer guests than usual. 

Instead of guessing when service will peak and wane, use your restaurant data to identify busy periods and staff accordingly. Square for Restaurants combines shifts and reports information in the Dashboard, so you can see past sales trends and make appropriate staffing decisions. In one application, you can compare labor and sales reports to identify when your restaurant is busiest and how much staff you have working at the time. It’s also possible to get granular with your reporting data by selecting date ranges, including day by day, by week, or by month.

Make holiday service a success with the right technology. 

Much like pay and staffing schedules, the tools you use to run your restaurant impact the overall working conditions for your team. If you’re preparing for a busy season, it’s likely that your leadership team will be training new or temporary employees. Consider easy-to-use tools, such as Square Shifts, which allows shift leads to manage time-off requests, shift swapping, tips and commission management, and time cards all from the POS system. 

Additionally, the holidays are a popular time for families, friends, colleagues, and other organizations to gather for in-person events. But navigating these events on top of regular service can be overwhelming for your staff. Leverage the newly released Square House Accounts, a deferred payment account that business regulars and corporate clients can easily charge purchases to. When you’re ready to settle up, your staff can quickly create an invoice for an outstanding balance and receive payment online via credit card, ACH payment, or Card on File.

No matter what kind of traffic you expect during the holidays, setting your team and business up for success with the right pay, appropriate head counts, and easy-to-use tools is critical. With a little prep work, you can work to build a seasonal setup that’s sure to last. 

Natalie Zunker
Natalie Zunker is an editor at Square. She specializes in developing strategic content for restaurant sellers to help them run their business and reach their goals.


Keep Reading

Tell us a little more about yourself to gain access to the resource.

i Enter your first name.
i Enter your last name.
i Enter a valid email.
i Enter a valid phone number.
i Enter your company name.
i Select estimated annual revenue.
i This field is required.

Thank you!
Check your email for your resource.

Results for

Based on your region, we recommend viewing our website in:

Continue to ->