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As the cliché says, you are only as strong as your weakest link. The same holds true in the restaurant industry. Every day, your employees interact with customers and serve as the 'face' of your organization. Happy employees who are engaged and a good fit for their job, provide better customer service and positively affect your bottom line. Unfortunately, the reverse is true – unengaged, unhappy employees reflect poorly on your brand and provide poor service.

It's no surprise that to be successful you need a great team. But, how do you find the best people?

Let's look at the industry trends.

More than 1,200 professionals from five industries – foodservice, hospitality, retail, grocery and convenience stores – participated in the PeopleMatter Institute's (PMI) annual 'How Hourly Workforces Work' survey. The results offer the most comprehensive view of how service-industry companies currently hire, train, schedule, engage and communicate with their people.

These insights clearly show what hiring trends are working and which areas, well, need a little improvement. These five hiring tips can help you quickly find the best and hire the best employees.

Tip #1: Automate, Automate, Automate

Sixty-nine percent of businesses manage hiring, training and scheduling via paper.

The first step is to automate. If you're still using paper, start looking for an online system that offers online applications, applicant tracking, assessments, background checks, onboarding and E-Verification. You lose a lot of productivity, efficiency and compliance-control when having to complete, track and record everything by paper. Automating your hiring process will allow you to spend more time finding and interviewing the best candidates instead of sorting through piles of paperwork.

Tip #2: Post, Tweet, Pin and Share to Find Your Best Applicants

Only 8 percent of people find recruiting applicants easy.

Consider this: Applicants sourced via social media are the highest quality, compared to those found through any other recruitment method ... even referrals.

Leverage your social media networks for recruitment. You want employees who are passionate about your brand, who know you and like you. Those people are going to be much more engaged, productive and likely to stick around than someone who walks in off the street and really needs a job...any job.

Be proactive about recruitment and go after the people you want on your team. Just make sure your company's Internet page, profile and social media outlets would make someone want to work with your company. Consider posting pictures with the regular customer who always comes in with his dog; uploading videos of an impromptu dance-off or touting your 401(k) benefits. Hiring is competitive, and you want to do whatever you can ensure you attract the best people.

Tip #3: Screen for Job Fit

More than two-thirds of businesses don't find it easy to identify high-quality candidates.

Screen all candidates for job fit with a pre-hire assessment test to ensure they have the right skills, personality traits and attitude needed for the job. Online is easiest, but even if you have to pre-screen using paper-and-pen methods, just make sure you're doing it. It's one of the most efficient, effective ways to weed out candidates who are not right for the job, your brand or the service industry.

Tip #4: Know What Works

Seventy percent of companies hire walk-in applicants, but employers rank them as their lowest-quality candidates.

Continually evaluate the effectiveness of your hiring. For recruitment, make a list of all of the channels your business uses to source applicants then analyze where your best employees are coming from, so you can focus your efforts there. You could find out some surprising stuff that will help you improve workforce management in other areas.

For example, maybe you find that 90 percent of your job board hires turnover within the first six months. You could tweak your job board listing, so the responsibilities and expectations are clearer and better defined. Or create a fun culture-training course for new hires to help engage employees from the start. It's not just the number of applicants you receive, but the quality as well. Evaluate your applicants, evaluate your hires and see who's sticking around and why.

Tip #5: Screen Every Single Candidate for Tax Credits

More than one-third of companies don't or don't know if they collect tax credits.

According to TaxBreak, the leading tax credits company, one out of four hourly workers qualifies for tax credits. You can earn up to $9,600 per employee for hiring the people that you're already hiring — like those who earn tips, receive welfare or are veterans. The average credit is $1,200 per employee. For a business with 100 employees and 100 percent turnover (for example, 100 new hires a year, 25 of whom will qualify for tax credits), that's $24,000 a year, straight to your bottom line.

Recruiting and hiring the best employees is an ongoing process – you need to constantly evaluate your HR processes to know what works and what doesn't. Investing your efforts in hiring the right employees – not just the first candidate who applies – will make your customers happier, your turnover decrease and your sales grow. How can you afford not to?

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Nate DaPore, PeopleMatter President and Chief Executive Officer As the spirited leader of PeopleMatter, Nate is passionate about providing team members, including his own, with a rewarding workplace experience that values creativity and innovation.
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