Articulate your company’s vision and how potential new hires can be a part of that success.

Labor remains one of the most pressing issues facing all players within the foodservice industry, but for different reasons.

Operators, for example, continue to come to terms with rising minimum wage rates throughout the country, changing labor laws that impact how they address overtime, benefits and more. And with the country’s employment levels holding relatively steady, operators continue to compete with other businesses for new talent, which further drives up the cost of this all-important resource.

In fact, 60 percent of foodservice operators project labor costs will consume an even larger portion of their 2017 budgets, according to FE&S’ 2017 Forecast study. In response to these challenges, foodservice operators continue to focus on better managing costs, raising menu prices and pursuing better contracts with vendors to lock in pricing.

To relieve some of these pressures, foodservice operators will continue to ask more from their foodservice equipment and their designs to help them maximize the return they get on their labor. This favors equipment that allows staff to program it to perform a specific function while they tend to other tasks. Designs that allow operator staffing levels to expand and contract along with customer traffic levels will remain popular.

For very different reasons, the supply chain also faces a cadre of labor-related issues. This fall I had the chance to attend several industry conferences and one of the most common refrains was: Where do we find new talent? It’s become far too common to sit around the table at one of these conferences, lament about the demise of the good old days and discuss a few changes to the company’s benefits package that you hope might make a difference to younger generations. This short-sighted tactical approach won’t change anything.

Want to become the employer of choice? It really requires a two-step approach. First, find out where your target employees are and go there. Is that a technical school? Perhaps a culinary school? Or maybe it’s something as simple as attending a job fair at a college or university.

Second, when you are with folks in your target demographic, listen to them. Understand their dreams and what they want from employment. And then connect the dots for them by explaining how your business can help them get there. Articulate your company’s vision and how they can be a part of that success. Simply updating benefits packages is not enough.

When it comes to careers and employment opportunities, the foodservice industry remains one of the business community’s best kept secrets. Unless you grew up in this industry or had a mentor nudge you in this direction, a career as a foodservice equipment and supplies dealer, consultant, manufacturer or service agent is on nobody’s radar. You have to put it there. The only way to do that is by going where the people are and speaking positively about your business as only you can.