On-Demand Staffing: Is It Right for Your Restaurant

Please note that the information contained in this article is limited in scope and is only intended as a high-level overview of the topics discussed. The information is current as of the publication date only, and the laws (and associated agency and/or judicial interpretations) on the topics discussed could change at any point in the future. Block, Inc. (including its affiliates, subsidiaries, employees, officers, directors, attorneys, and tax advisors) undertakes no obligation to update this article for future changes in the law. In addition, laws vary by jurisdiction, and this article does not attempt to address all jurisdictions — for example, states, counties, or cities often have requirements that differ from federal law. Nothing in this article is or should be used as tax or legal advice. In particular, this article cannot be relied upon for the purposes of avoiding taxes, penalties, or other obligations under applicable law. For guidance or advice specific to your business, you should consult with a qualified tax and/or legal professional.

As a restaurant owner, few things are more important than finding competent staff to help you run your business. As the restaurant industry grapples with labor challenges stemming from the pandemic, finding restaurant workers is proving difficult for many businesses.

According to the Square Future of Restaurants report, 73% of restaurants say they are experiencing a labor shortage – and an average of 21% of positions are unfilled. It’s no surprise that restaurant owners are turning to flexible or on-demand staffing services to manage the shortage. These services allow restaurants to access temporary workers to fulfill staffing needs on a shift-by-shift basis. 

If you’re considering on-demand staffing services for your business, here are some things you need to know about the employment model and how it can help your restaurant.

What is on-demand staffing?

On-demand staffing is a staffing model that offers flexible employment options to employers and employees. The model is often used by businesses that need to hire for short-term projects or need to scale up their workforce quickly. Businesses hire temporary workers with the right skillset on an as-needed basis. 

Flexible staffing services are provided by on-demand staffing platforms, which are online marketplaces that manage the listing and recruitment for temporary jobs. They connect workers looking for short-term jobs with employers who need temporary workers. These platforms usually serve specific industries and match employees with a particular skillset with employers looking for workers.

Many on-demand staffing platforms use technology that enables automatic matching of employees with potential employers. For example, an interested worker can create a profile, list their skills, and indicate their availability from a mobile app. Businesses can also post jobs and sort through matched candidates. The on-demand staffing provider may run background checks on both candidates and businesses for security and legal purposes.

Below are some of the popular on-demand staffing platforms for restaurants:

  • Fliptable
  • Gigpro
  • SnapShyft
  • GigSmart

How does on-demand staffing work?

Suppose an employee calls in sick and you need to quickly find a replacement. If you choose to use on-demand staffing services, then you’ll need to contact your preferred on-demand recruiting provider. Most providers will require you to call or fill out a contact/registration form. 

The next step is to provide the job requirements so the agency can match you with qualified workers. On some platforms this process is automated, so you can instantly see a list of candidates who are available and meet your requirements. For other platforms the process is manual, so you may wait to receive recommendations.  

Once you’ve found a qualified employee, you follow the platform’s hiring process to complete the hire. A key selling point for many staffing platforms, however, is that they considerably reduce the paperwork and time required for the process. Once it’s all complete, the employee shows up at your restaurant ready to work. 

Benefits of on-demand staffing for your business

One of the key attractions of on-demand staffing is that you get access to skilled workers you can hire quickly on an as-needed basis. This means you can easily fill up seasonal positions, hire workers quickly during peak periods, and quickly manage unexpected demands. In addition, all initial screening and paperwork requirements are handled by the service provider, which saves you time and resources. 

Downsides of on-demand staffing

The biggest downside of on-demand staffing is that workers receive no benefits, so they may be less committed to your business than full-time employees. You also have to frequently hire new employees each time you need help, which means you could dedicate considerable time to recruiting and onboarding.

In addition, frequent changes to your team may ultimately impact your customer experience because newly recruited employees are not familiar with your business processes. That’s why it’s important to train temporary employees before giving them customer-facing roles.

Another point to consider is that staffing platforms may also charge your business fees as high as 30% of the total worker’s compensation, and this could cost significantly more than hiring a full-time employee in the long run.

Important considerations when choosing an on-demand staffing platform

Location – Choose a platform that adequately covers your business location and has a decent pool of restaurant workers.

Turnaround time – Quick turnaround times are crucial when using a staffing service. If the agency communicates poorly or takes too long to provide recommendations, you may want to look elsewhere.

Cost – On-demand staffing platforms usually charge a percentage of the worker’s wages. Some offer a subscription model where you pay based on the number of jobs posted. Carefully review charges and payment terms before making a commitment. 

Terms and conditions – As with all recruitment services, be sure to carefully review the terms and conditions of the platform. For example, what’s the dispute resolution process? What kind of checks do they perform on candidates? What happens if an employee defaults? Get clear answers to your most important questions before using any platform.

Best practices when working with on-demand staff

1. Work frequently with your preferred on-demand recruiters

While there are several on-demand staffing platforms to choose from, you may consider selecting two or three preferred platforms and regularly recruit from those. Not only will this save you time spent switching between multiple platforms, but it also makes it easier to define your process, reduce onboarding time, and improve efficiency.

2. Provide detailed job descriptions

An accurate job description is an important tool that helps you hire the best hands. Writing a job description ensures you review the role carefully and identify the skills that are most important to you. This makes it easier to find the right candidate. 

3. Find ways to manage contract staff more efficiently 

When you work with contractors, you’ll do lots of onboarding, shift scheduling, tax filings, and paperwork. It’s important to find ways to cut down the time spent managing employees so you can focus on the most productive areas of your business. Tools like Square Payroll make it easy to manage contractors and perform recurring activities, such as paying them

You can import timecards from other platforms, generate and file Form 1099-NEC online, and pay contractors via direct deposit online. Plus you get access to U.S.-based payroll specialists in case you need phone support. For managing shifts and tracking employee time, you can turn to Square Team Management. You can schedule shifts, adjust schedules, create or import timecards, and monitor performance, all from one dashboard.

Other ways to manage the staffing shortage

While on-demand staffing is an attractive option, it’s important to consider additional ways to attract and retain long-term employees. 

Review current employee benefits

A Joblist survey of over 13,000 workers revealed that 39% of restaurant workers cited a lack of benefits as one of the top reasons for switching to other industries. Offering competitive pay and benefits is crucial in order to attract and retain employees. According to a Gallup report, businesses with highly engaged employees are 21% more profitable.

Review your current benefits package to ensure it’s valuable to employees. Square Payroll partners with benefit providers so you can save time managing your team’s compensation, health insurance, and retirement benefits. You can pick and choose benefits that fit your budget, customize your package, and invite employees to enroll. Square handles employee enrollment and calculates deductions and contributions for each pay run.

Leverage data to make smarter staffing decisions

Studying your business employment data can help you understand patterns of employee behavior and performance and make changes based on those insights. Square Payroll provides data that makes it easy to manage shifts and make better staffing decisions. 

Find ways to improve workers’ efficiency

As the industry continues to adapt to post-pandemic labor changes, your business can leverage technology to improve processes and reduce time spent on manual, repetitive tasks. For example, the Square integrated Kitchen Display System seamlessly syncs front- and back-of-house operations, allowing you to display and fulfill orders accurately from anywhere, including online, POS, and delivery apps. 

Whether you are hiring temporary or full-time employees, make it easy for workers to stay fully committed to your business by listening to their feedback and providing thebtools that increase productivity.