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Attracting Candidates in the Food and Beverage Industry

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For quite some time now, the food and beverage industry has been severely understaffed and the trend is expected to intensify with an estimated 25,000 positions to be filled by 2025 in Ontario alone. The arrival of Covid 19 has accelerated this labour shortage.

The pandemic and childcare-related issues, amongst other factors, have contributed to absenteeism at work, while border closures and an increase in remote work options have shrunk the available worker pool. To face this challenge, businesses must continue enhancing their attractiveness to potential candidates. Here are 3 levers you can rely on to boost your company’s reputation.

#1 Building an attractive employer brand


Keep in mind that a company’s culture has never been more visible to the public. Online review platforms such as Glassdoor or Google My Business now give individuals a preview of how companies behave internally. This is important to consider in the food and beverage industry, where work can be hard and salaries on the lower end. In order to encourage candidates to apply for your job openings, take great care of how your employer brand is portrayed online. Here are a few questions you might be asking yourself to avoid bad word-of-mouth: 


What compensation and overall benefits should I consider offering?


Compensation is one of the best competitive weapons your company can rely on: it usually carries a lot of weight in the candidate’s decision-making process. This is especially true in sectors impacted by labour shortages where there are more positions to fill than available candidates.


Moreover, financial and general benefits have both an attraction and a retention effect on employees: they contribute to the well-being of your team, to their performance and to their commitment in the long run. This is especially important when they are subjected to harsh working conditions such as heavy loads, temperature changes or spending days in slaughterhouses.


There isn’t always much wiggle room in the food and beverage industry. So when it comes to concrete applications, you should keep in mind that salary isn’t the only element on which you can act. Here are other tips:


  • Year-end bonuses are based on the financial health of the company or specific objectives.
  • Health & social benefits: maternity and paternity leave, health coverage, dental plans etc.
  • Personalized benefits: daycare services, gym memberships, psychological support, transportation allowances, etc.
  • Timely and visible salary increase what your employees can rely on.
  • A proper work-life balance philosophy.
  • An official profit-sharing system, connecting corporate success with individual rewards.



What flexibility can I offer?


The Covid-19 crisis has shown the advantage of flexible working hours and location: it reduces travel and fatigue but also improves work-life balance. This survey, conducted by Airtasaker among American employees, also suggests that flexibility increases productivity.


If at first sight factory work seems to be an obstacle to telework, you should know that flexible working conditions can be integrated into many ways based on your modus operandi. Whether it be through working from home a few days a week, finishing earlier on Fridays or flexible arrival and departure hours, there are many options you can rely on to give your team a sense of balance between their professional and personal responsibilities.  


How can I nurture communication?

Communicating regularly and positively with your employees can have a real impact on their well-being at work. Transparency should always be encouraged and promoted: keep employees up to date on important decisions while leaving the door open for feedback. Regular - but spaced out - team meetings and individual feedback sessions can also help you convey information clearly and keep employees engaged in the growth of the company or of their role.


How should I set up my team's workspace?

Be mindful of the structure and cleanliness of your offices. The food and beverage industry workspace can be perceived as noisy, dirty and sometimes dangerous. Provide your teams with suitable work areas and adequate space to perform their tasks. This will enhance their performance while being essential to their safety.

A well-designed workplace also encourages social interaction: modern rather than outdated facilities will make your employees feel comfortable during meetings, lunch breaks or in communal areas where they can store their belongings.

How should I equip my workers?

Ensure quality equipment and tools are provided to your team to set them up for success, help maintain productivity rates,  and avoid accidents:

Pay attention to the state of protective gear and have equipment adapted to employees' size. Equip your teams with all the necessary equipment for their safety (mask, hydroalcoholic gel, ventilation, etc.) and make sure the measures are well known and respected by all.

Also, make your employees grow: Provide them with supervision and support them through quality training. Offering modern and adapted tools to your staff is also a way to attract a younger workforce while gaining productivity, as using outdated tools - like tons of Excel files - can be frustrating and time-consuming.  Using enterprise resource planning software (also called ERP's) is an example of an organizational tool that will benefit both your company and your teams. By automating specific tasks, the administrative workload can be reduced, allowing some of your employees to devote their efforts to more rewarding and less arduous missions.

Food and beverage worker

#2 Presenting your company on paper


To find the ideal candidate, present yourself as the ideal company. Whether you target physical institutions such as schools and community centers or proceed online, showcase impactful job listings by only focusing on the most relevant information. Adapt your tone to your targets and clearly explain the role of the future employee, their missions and the benefits they will get from the position.



How should I promote my business in a job listing?


Many businesses in your industry are looking for qualified and dedicated workers.  Highlight the most attractive selling points and showcase what sets you apart from the competition. You can even share some testimonials from former or current employees to drive your point. Finally, if you’re committed to a CSR (company social responsibility) policy, be sure to mention it.


Adapt your tone and your vocabulary: if you’re looking for a qualified worker, focus on technical verbiage. For dynamic young talent, highlight career development opportunities, flexibility and openness. Also, don't hesitate to present the job in a fun way. When looking for leaders or managers, emphasize the responsibilities and the impact of the role in the business. These actions will help candidates identify themselves with your organization and give them a clear idea of their future role.



How can I reach the right candidates?


Keep in mind that a curated job listing will generate candidates who meet your expectations. Being upfront about your needs and clearly explaining the role and tasks of the future employee will save you both valuable time and avoid miscommunications.


If you're wondering whether it's wise to include a salary range in your job postings, know that it's a sign of transparency appreciated by candidates. It may even save you time: revealing their salary later in the hiring process won't prevent them from declining your offer if they're not satisfied.


 Company Presentation


#3 Being attractive to candidates in interviews


Keep an eye on every detail during the interview. From the tone of voice and space, you give the applicants to the topics you discuss, be sure to address the following aspects. They’ll help you find the right balance in conveying a positive image of your business.


Preparation is the key to success


Prepare for your interview beforehand. Take a bit of time to study the candidate's profile and previous experience. This will not only allow you to conduct the interview effectively, but it will also let the applicant know that they have your attention. A candidate who feels heard and recognized is more likely to join your team.



Clear and accurate information


Applicants need accurate information to know if they’re a good fit. Review the job description in a simple and precise manner. Be open to discussing topics that weren’t on your job posting. This may include salary, benefits, development opportunities, flexible scheduling etc.



Shared time leads to open communication


Present your expectations and any useful information for the interview, while taking into account the time of your candidate. Discuss their background and ask open-ended questions. Also, give them time to ask you questions or share comments. One-way communication can be taken as a sign of rigidity and be a real turn-off for your future talent.


Keeping the right tone with candidates


Being professional and friendly isn’t incompatible. The key is to not fall into overt familiarity. A friendly attitude might help the candidate to relax and make the conversation go smoothly. This is especially true during a phone interview in which the caller cannot see you and has only your voice as an indicator to rely on.


If you feel like it, a few anecdotes and sprinkles of humour can be good icebreakers. Stay true to yourself and don't hesitate to speak about the values of your company and the team future employees will be working with. They should envision themselves as being part of your organization.




Investing in your attractiveness is the first step in a successful hiring process. In face of the labour shortage, companies can be proactive by creating a healthy work environment, providing adequate working conditions and targeting all their communications to their ideal candidates. Give employees and candidates a sense of belonging and help them see the perks of joining your company.



Now that you have the tool kit to attract candidates, learn how to target candidates effectively and how to maximize the number of applications you receive.