We don’t need to remind you about the current labor shortage, the great restaurant resignation or how expensive it is to replace a single restaurant worker. But even in the best of times, without any of these factors amplifying current turnover rates, restaurants will always be a bit of a revolving door. Organic turnover is a challenging reality of the restaurant business, whether it’s adding seasonal staff to cover the holiday rush or hiring students that are temporarily home for the summer.
No matter the cause of your restaurant employee turnover, onboarding and training new staff takes a lot of time and effort that could be better spent on everything from inventory management to improving your customer loyalty program. Here are three simple ways to save time and improve your restaurant’s efficiency the next time you bring in a new employee.
1. Automate your onboarding process
The less time you and your veteran staff spend training new employees, the better. And while some level of hands-on training will always be necessary, you can streamline the process by providing the right foundation. In the best cases, this will include forms that can be filled out and submitted online, including a W-4, I-9, direct deposit and any benefit forms). Once the paperwork is out of the way, you need an efficient way to relay everything from your company policies to the restaurant’s culture.
If you don’t already have an employee handbook covering these basics, it’s time to create one. This will save you a ton of time in the long run as employees come and go. Your handbook is the place to lay out staff expectations and responsibilities along with everything from scheduling policies and dress code to customer service standards and menu training.
But don’t make it all about rules and expectations. It’s equally important to provide information about the restaurant’s history, culture and values to help your new staff feel engaged and excited to work there — and ready to put their best foot forward when interacting with your customers.
Sharing any training videos provided by your technology vendors, such as your restaurant’s POS system, is another huge time saver that gives new hires an important level of familiarity when it’s time for on-the-floor training.
2. Pair new staff with a veteran mentor
It’s always a good idea to designate a veteran staff member in every area, from line cooks to bartenders, to serve as a mentor for your new hires. Discuss expectations with your mentors in advance and consider compensating them for their time and effort. Neither you nor your mentors should feel like their services are simply a favor. Taking the time to outline specific mentorship expectations from the start will prevent you from having to frequently check in to ensure your new hire is getting the support they need, and your mentor will soon become a pro at the process.
In addition to being shadowed by new hires and being available to answer questions at any point (during training and beyond), consider asking your mentors to spend some time role playing a few common challenging scenarios that your new staff member is likely to face in their day-to-day, such as a challenging customer.
No matter how much time you’re trying to save on turnover, don’t gloss over customer service. We all know how important good service is to our business, but an alarming 70% of employees in the food and beverage industry receive no customer service training whatsoever.
3. Rely on easy-to-use restaurant technology
Nothing slows down the training process more than restaurant technology that’s frustrating, complicated or difficult to use. On the flip side, technology that’s easy to use and requires minimal instruction can significantly streamline the entire training process. Better yet if you’re using technology that’s likely recognizable from previous jobs, such as an all-in-one POS system that’s widely used and has been around forever.
Not only does intuitive technology make onboarding easier on you and your staff, it can improve your new employee’s job satisfaction by freeing them up to turn more tables, and earn more tips. This can go a long way toward retaining those employees you worked so hard to find, hire and train.
Minimize unexpected restaurant employee turnover
While turnover is a natural byproduct of seasonal and temporary employees, there’s plenty you can do to prevent unexpected turnover, even in this critically tight labor market. And it all starts with a good onboarding experience, which is directly tied to retention. According to one research report, excellent onboarding can improve employee retention by 82% — and boost productivity by more than 70%. One thing you can do to set the stage for strong retention is to address opportunities for growth and advancement during the onboarding process.
Beyond the first impressions of onboarding, there are several steps you can take to reduce turnover and improve employee retention. From serving a family meal and offering flexible scheduling to soliciting employee feedback and providing development opportunities, many of these efforts go beyond the paycheck. Minimizing turnover in the first place—and having streamlined processes in place for when it does happen—can free you up to spend more time focusing on the food and service, and less on finding and training new staff.