Kitchen Staffing Strategies: Hiring Cooks and Other Kitchen Staff

Hiring cooks and other kitchen workers? You need a smart kitchen staffing plan. See our tips on how to hire back of house staff for a wide range of roles.

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Whether you run a restaurant, hotel or event venue, the quality of your food services is key to your reputation. With the right kitchen staffing plan in place, you can make a lasting impression on your guests. PeopleReady shares our guide to attracting the best kitchen staff to guarantee top-notch service. This includes:

  • Qualities to look for when hiring cooks and kitchen workers
  • Tips to hire back of house staff for your kitchen roles
  • Benefits of partnering with a hospitality staffing agency for back of house staffing needs

Qualities to look for in kitchen workers

Whether you’re hiring prep cooks, hiring line cooks or any other kitchen workers, certain skills and qualities are essential for the success of your workforce. Here’s what a staffing agency will look for in candidates for kitchen jobs of all types.

Adaptability and flexibility

Flexibility is vital for all back of house workers, particularly prep and line cooks. It allows your team to adapt to changing demands, such as sudden rushes of customers or last-minute menu modifications.

At times, kitchen workers may be required to customize an order to meet guest preferences. Being adaptable ensures that guests are content with their dining experience.

The ability to stay calm under pressure

The kitchen is a fast-paced environment, and it’s easy for your team members to become stressed and make mistakes. When your workers can think on their feet and multi-task, you avoid issues that could negatively impact the guest experience.

With that in mind, finding kitchen workers who can stay calm when things get hectic is key. This way, your team can provide great service no matter what challenges they may face.

Teamwork skills

Staying calm under pressure is crucial in any kitchen, and so is working as a team. When your team members don’t work well together, mistakes become more likely. This can result in delays, affecting overall service quality.

Focusing on teamwork isn’t just about getting the job done. It’s about creating a better environment for your entire team. When everyone in the kitchen works together, your guests enjoy a better dining experience.

Communication skills

To make sure orders are completed quickly and that dishes are prepared just the way guests like, good communication is key. When people communicate well, it makes for a happier and less stressful workplace.

Good communication also aids in problem-solving and fosters respect and camaraderie among team members. Strong teamwork in the kitchen enhances the work environment, benefiting both your team and your guests.

Food handling knowledge

What makes food safety so important? The well-being of your guests and your entire team depends on it. Your kitchen staffing plan should prioritize hiring cooks who understand how to prepare and store food. This includes a variety of tasks such as defrosting food safely, preventing cross-contamination, labeling food items and cooking at the correct temperature to eliminate bacteria.

While many safety procedures and protocols are universal, certain food handling tasks require specific skills and experience. For example, you may need to find cooks or other kitchen workers who have their Food Hygiene Certificate.

Hire and retain back of house staff with these recommendations

Whether you’re running a restaurant, a hotel kitchen or a concession stand for a local event venue, there are certain things you can do to succeed in your staffing efforts. Here are some tips to help you attract and retain the right applicants for your kitchen roles.

Ask applicants for kitchen jobs the right questions

Interviews play an important role in assessing if your candidates have the right skills and are a good culture fit. After all, certain kitchen jobs will require specific skill sets, but there are some traits that all of your team members should possess. Here are some questions that a staffing agency might ask in order to get a better understanding of potential candidates:

  • Are you comfortable working in a fast-paced environment?
  • How do you prioritize tasks and manage your time effectively?
  • How do you handle high-pressure situations?
  • Do you have knowledge of proper food handling standards?
  • What steps do you take to ensure the quality of meals you prepare?

Accommodate different kitchen work schedules whenever possible

Crafting a schedule for your kitchen staffing needs can be challenging due to nontraditional hours. However, offering flexible schedule options is one way to ensure your success in staffing for kitchen workers. Consider self-scheduling or flextime to help you hire back of house staff like prep and line cooks who can accommodate your schedule.

There are many benefits to staffing flexibility. The Society of Human Resource Management notes that flexible schedules not only encourage good performance but also result in fewer employee absences, helping to ensure that you always have the workforce you need.

Emphasize training and onboarding for all kitchen workers

Job applicants view training as an excellent opportunity for personal and professional growth. Even if your new kitchen staff has prior kitchen experience, they’ll still need to learn their way around your kitchen. That’s why it’s crucial to train them for your specific tasks and guidelines.

Additionally, consider training your workers to perform duties beyond their usual job description. If you’re ever short-staffed, one of your team members can step in without compromising the quality of service.

Share how you recognize your kitchen staff for their hard work

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the turnover rate in food service jobs is higher than that of many other roles. This puts a premium on having dedicated, hard-working team members who will remain loyal to your company. Don’t forget to highlight incentives and recognition opportunities in your job postings to attract the best applicants. By showcasing these benefits, you demonstrate your commitment to fostering a positive work environment.

Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to recognize and reward your workers for their contributions. For example, you can offer congratulations to your top workers at team meetings or set up a reward system by providing incentives like free meals or gift cards. As a result, you’ll see a boost in employee morale and performance.

How partnering with a hospitality staffing agency makes kitchen staffing easier

The support of a hospitality staffing agency can be a great asset for your staffing needs. If you’ve never worked with a staffing agency before, here’s how this partnership can help make a difference in your staffing plan:

Hospitality industry knowledge and expertise

Thanks to their expertise and deep industry knowledge, a staffing agency that specializes in hospitality staffing will give you a huge hiring advantage. They are far more likely to find candidates who fit your specific needs, whether you need to hire back of house staff or for other roles. Moreover, their thorough screening process ensures that your workers possess the requisite skills along with any certifications or special training.

A stronger pool of applicants for kitchen jobs and similar roles

The right staffing agency for you will be locally established and deeply connected in your community, offering valuable insights into your unique hiring requirements. Through their strong ties with local businesses and organizations, they can effectively recruit skilled candidates for hospitality positions. Additionally, their active engagement on social media platforms and other channels allows them to advertise your job vacancies, making it easier to find the right team members.

Flexibility of back of house staffing solutions

When your staffing needs change, a staffing agency can help you scale your workforce up or down accordingly. They offer part-time or temporary workers who can accommodate your schedule, which means you have the support you need at all times. Whether you require a few cooks for a short time or an entire kitchen crew, a staffing agency has you covered.

Reduced administrative tasks related to kitchen hiring

Hiring new workers for your kitchen requires a variety of administrative tasks, including onboarding and payroll duties. A staffing agency takes the hassle out of hiring by handling paperwork, background checks and compliance issues. As a result, you have more time to focus on other business responsibilities.

Customized hospitality staffing plan

Your kitchen is one of a kind, so why shouldn’t your staffing plan be too? A staffing agency can work with you to create a customized long-term strategy that meets your current and future staffing needs. With their support, you’ll be able to succeed in staffing for kitchen workers, even if your needs change at the last minute.

Support with your safety and compliance efforts

Partnering with a staffing agency for kitchen staffing ensures compliance with local and federal laws, minimizing the risk of misclassification and legal issues. Their expertise in employment regulations guarantees that all bartenders provided are properly classified and meet legal requirements. This type of support can go a long way toward protecting your business from liability.

PeopleReady has the hospitality staffing solutions you need to succeed

If you need extra support for your kitchen or dining services, PeopleReady is here to make your back of house staffing efforts easier than ever. Our local teams throughout the U.S. are ready to provide a wide range of W-2 workforce solutions for event staffing, hotel staffing and hospitality staffing. For example, we can help with:

  • Hiring line cooks
  • Hiring prep cooks
  • Hiring banquet and restaurant servers
  • Hiring bartenders
  • Hiring hotel workers
  • And more!

Meanwhile, our JobStack app gives you convenient access to our hospitality staffing solutions, so you can fill roles even outside of normal business hours.

So, if you’re asking, “Where can I hire hospitality workers near me?” check out our locations page.

Looking for hospitality staffing solutions?

PeopleReady, a TrueBlue company (NYSE: TBI), specializes in quick and reliable on-demand labor and highly skilled workers. PeopleReady supports a wide range of industries, including construction, manufacturing and logistics, retail and hospitality. Leveraging its game changing JobStack staffing app and presence in more than 600 markets throughout North America, PeopleReady served approximately 83,000 businesses and put approximately 226,000 people to work in 2022.