How NOT to Hire a Kitchen Crew
By Adam Lamb, Foodable Industry Expert
[Disclaimer: I should preface this piece by saying upfront that I have no formal training as a Human Resources Professional nor do I hold any degrees in psychology other than 30 years in the hospitality business interviewing, vetting, and hiring culinarians of all skill levels and temperaments.]
I talk to a lot of chefs and during those conversations, the topic inevitably turns to staffing issues. It doesn’t matter how long any of us have been in the industry or our positions — we are all confronted by one simple fact: almost, if not all of the issues that dog us daily in our kitchens can be drilled down to one sobering conclusion: it’s hard to hire, nurture, and empower the right staff.
Sometimes we have the right person in the wrong job or the wrong person in the right one.
Some of us are fortunate enough to have a formalized HR department to assist us in filling open positions but it’s safe to say that they have their hands full with the increasingly complex duties of the administration of the staff as well.
But most of us don’t have the luxury of a pedigreed professional in Human Resources on staff and have to rely on our ability to read people to make qualified choices of who to hire and who to take a pass on, a vetting process based more on intuition than science or due diligence.
Having personally worked with and without a dedicated HR department, I’ve had some successes and many failures hiring qualified candidates in the kitchens I have managed, such as the gal I hired, whom after working 2 weeks in the pantry, walked up to me with the listing of open positions in the resort and asked for a transfer.
”To what department?,” I asked her.
“Anywhere but here, Chef,” she whispered, head down. I don’t know who felt worse — her for having made the wrong choice of where to work, or me for not having had the foresight to see that she would end up unhappy and unproductive in her position.
According to The Center for American Progress, “The typical cost of turnover for positions earning less than $30,000 annually is 16 percent of an employee’s annual salary.” That’s $4,000 for each and every employee in your organization. The article, compiled from 11 leading studies, also states, “The cost of turnover is an important economic issue because about one-fifth of workers voluntarily leave their job each year and an additional one-sixth are fired or otherwise let go involuntarily.”