Customers at tables and waitress in busy restaurant interior

The National Restaurant Association recently released a report that says 45% of operators expect to need more employees, and 90% note problems with recruitment and retention. Not new news. What is new is that 25% of operators now think that using gig employees to fill just-in-time positions (a new term) will become standard operating procedure.

So where does a hospitality operator start? Here are the common asked questions our team is asked and topics discussed with new clients nationwide. Use this list as a starting point when interviewing a potential staffing partner. 

What is just-in-time staffing?

Simply said, it’s working with a staffing company and gig workers. The three main sources for gig staffing are:

  • App-based services 
  • One-size-fits-all general staffing agencies 
  • Specialized staffing agencies experienced in hospitality hiring

App-based services are the newest entrants into the field of temporary staffing, and they come with some important caveats, especially around how employees are classified. General staffing agencies have been around for a long time, and they can be a mixed bag in terms of fit between an operator’s needs and the quality of the employees provided. Staffing agencies that specialize in recruiting hospitality workers are knowledgeable about the needs of the industry and often can secure the best candidates (and they often have apps).

How to choose a staffing partner

What should an operator think about when exploring gig staffing options? 

  • How long has the staffing company been in business? The longer a staffing company has been in business, the more they know about getting the right employees into the right positions. It takes time to understand the needs of an industry and develop a pipeline of qualified workers.
  • What experience does the staffing company have with the restaurant industry? A good staffing partner will understand the roles a restaurateur needs to fill, what certifications are needed, and what qualifications workers need to excel at the job. Not every staffing company specializes in restaurant work. Ask.
  • How are workers classified? This question is an important one because the wrong answer can open an operator up to potential fines and workers’ compensation liabilities. A new rule from the Department of Labor raises serious questions about app-based platforms that classify temporary workers as independent contractors. Most staffing agencies classify their workers as W-2 employees, taking on the workers’ compensation and required benefits rather than leaving them to the customer. 
  • How fast can the potential partner fill orders? It depends if they have an already vetted pipeline of vetted workers or if every request starts from scratch. Some staffing agencies use their own apps to speed up the process to secure and schedule employees, providing many of the advantages of an app-based system without the risks associated with misclassification.
  • How does the agency communicate with clients? Nothing is more important in a relationship with a staffing partner than communication. Find out if they have a dedicated representative to ask questions. Ask how they handle after-hours issues. A trusted staffing partner should be transparent throughout the working relationship and be available to answer any questions or concerns a client may have.

Using gig staffing effectively

Choosing the right staffing partner, avoiding misclassification of employees, and having open lines of communication is a win for a busy restaurant operation. The staffing firm takes on the responsibility to bring in great team members during the busiest of times relieving one of the biggest industry stressors: finding great staff.

George Lessmeister is CEO and founder of LGC Hospitality, a national staffing firm headquartered in Indianapolis. LGC has offices in over 40 U.S. cities. Team members work with hotel and restaurant leadership to place executives and temporary workers.