John Howie offers incentive to plug staff shortages

Woodlands restaurant

Something for the weekend: Organisations struggling to recruit new workers might be interested to learn about John Howie Restaurants’ latest hiring tactic.

The US hospitality chain is offering $500 (£364) to customers who find thyme to successfully recommend employees in a risky move which could see its staff shortages exacerbated by queues of eager diners, all keen to make their next meal pay for itself.

In an email to its customers, John Howie makes clear it is quite happy to poach rivals’ staff. It boldly stated: “While out and about, have you come across a stellar server? An unforgettable bartender? An amazing cook? Someone who made your dining experience one to remember? If the answer is yes, we want to meet them.”

Customers’ family members will also be considered. The email said: “Whether your candidate is a mere stranger who bussed your table like a table has never been bussed before or someone living under your own roof, send them our way.” But could this translate into a prompt for desperate parents to big up the qualities of their couch potato teenagers?

The rewards for finding the right candidate are certainly tempting, with the payment redeemable at whichever John Howie establishment hires the person they recommended.

With the US currently facing a major shortage of hospitality workers, many other restaurant chains have decided to hike staff wages, improve benefits and offer $500 starting bonuses. Some have questioned whether owner and founder of John Howie Restaurants, fondly known as Chef Howie – who boasts on his website of having a “big stomach and a big heart” – should follow suit to attract new staff, rather than rewarding customers.

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A spokesperson responded: “Chef Howie has always prioritised taking care of his people and he will continue to offer competitive compensation and benefits to attract and retain the best talent.” No doubt a policy his customers firmly support.

Here at Employee Benefits we say lettuce celebrate John Howie Restaurants’ innovative recruitment policy. We hope that his customers make recommendations that really cut the mustard and that his hiring tactic does not become a pizza hospitality hiring history.