5 Steps to Optimizing Your Restaurant’s Employee Lifecycle

With an average annual turnover rate of 73%, according to The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, restaurateurs know that employees are going to be coming and going from their business with frequency. However, not many restaurateurs think about how they can optimize the processes of both employee hiring exiting.

Since high turnover is likely, it is in restaurants’ best interest to consider the lifecycle of an employee as a whole, and optimize the journey to make sure the business gets the most of each employee, which helps keeps costs down and morale amongst staff high.

Roughly speaking, this journey can be thought of as 5 distinct stages which an employee moves through: Hiring, Onboarding, Training, Scheduling and Engaging.

We’ll take you each step of this process and provide some helpful tips, strategies and tools to help you save you time, money and stress when it comes effectively managing your staff.

Any employees journey with your restaurant staff starts with the hiring process. There are a many things you can do while hiring to make the process easier and help make sure you get the right candidate who will be a productive and efficient team member.

Before releasing your job posting, make sure that your restaurant’s online presence is top notch in order to attract top talent. Give your online presence a quick audit to make sure you like everything that is out there, from social media to your website to reviews of your establishment. Ensuring that your restaurants brand is polished is increasingly becoming a reason potential employees choose one company over another to apply to!

SinglePlatform can be used to make sure that what you’re putting out online, such as menus, your website, and social posts, are the best they can be.

Next, place your job postings in the right place. Job boards such as Indeed, Glassdoor or your own social media networks are good options, but there are also hospitality focused job boards such as Poached. Make sure you use the right keywords in your posting to give it better placement on job boards.

Also use your own professional network to find qualified employees. Let all your employees know you’re hiring, and consider providing an incentive for a referral. A referral can be great for building team morale and a consistent company culture.

Approaching the hiring process carefully and with an eye for quality can save you money and time in the long run because it can attract the best possible hire, not just the quickest.

Once an employee is hired, the next step is to onboard them to your operation make sure they feel comfortable, are learning as much as they can, and are welcomed into your workplace.

Up to 20% of employee turnover happens during the first 45 days of employment, so it is important to have a tried and true onboarding method in place to make sure you don’t lose those great new hires. Organizations with a standard onboarding process have 50% greater new hire retention.

A checklist is a good idea to follow an onboarding process, and software, such as Process Street, is now available that can help you create and follow a checklist. Process Street outlines each step of the way, from getting an employee’s details to assigning them a mentor on the first day and following up to see how they are doing. Having a checklist gives you a great, transparent way of monitoring progress that is purely analytical.

Following an onboarding process will allow for further refinements in the future and can remove the stress of not knowing how to make a new hire part of the team.

Much like onboarding, training also requires a plan. When creating a plan, think about the goals of the training ­‑ what you would like your employee to know and in what timeframe. Don’t just hand your employee a handbook and set them to work immediately. Think of training as a continual process that requires patience and many check-ins.

Break each role down in your restaurant into a set of tasks and design your training around teaching each of those tasks. When clear goals are set within a specific timeframe, then you and your employee share the same expected outcome and tracking progress is easier.

You can also look at implementing hospitality-specific learning and training systems like Wisetail which can help track and test the knowledge of your new employees to ensure they have the skills they need to do their job well.

Also consider an initial skills audit of the employee so you don’t waste time on training them on things they may already know. Monitor an employee’s performance through performance reports that use data collected monthly and weekly to see where an employee may need more training to be optimal.

Once a new employee is hired, onboarded and trained on what they need to do their job well, the next step is to get them on the schedule! Luckily the days of “penciling them in” for a shift are long-gone. Modern restaurants can take advantage of web-based scheduling tools which make this process a breeze.

Restaurant scheduling software provides great features to help you save time and money adding new staff to your schedule. For example, with a web-based scheduling app you don’t have to worry about dealing with complex availability for new staff – you can simply add them to your schedule and then your new staff can submit their own availability which a manager can then approve.

A scheduling tool like 7shifts takes this one step further by allowing employees to provide shift feedback after their shifts which managers can then use to keep track of their onboarding and training to see if any further action is required and to quickly act on issues that may affect an employee’s on-the-job performance.

To help retain your staff, a good idea is to become knowledgeable of the pain points your staff feel and learn from past employees.

Consider measuring how long staff stay with your restaurant, which can help you understand what you need to do to keep them longer. If your average server stays for 24 months, design incentives around that time frame to keep your employees motivated.

Incentives and rewards are a good way to retain staff. Implement small wage increases every year, staff meals, holiday parties or fun group activities to make your staff enjoy working in your restaurant more. Learn more about creating a solid company culture here.

If an employee does leave, perform an exit interview to see why and what can be improved in your entire employee lifecycle program so the same mistakes aren’t done twice. Also have regular check ins with your employees to make improvements before it is too late. It’s important to identify stressors in your workplace by talking with your staff so you can make strides toward improvement.

In Closing

Since your restaurant may see a lot of staff come and go, use that repetition to always be enhancing and strengthening how you manage an employee’s lifecycle. From using your network and the best job platforms to find the right candidate, to having a tight process for onboarding and training, then regular check-ins to make sure your staff is happy, you will find that approaching an employee lifecycle strategically will save you time, stress, and money in the long run.

How to Drive Restaurant Profit with Staff Communication

By now it’s common knowledge that turnover in restaurants is very high – 20% higher than in the private sector, in fact. Add to that, 70% of employees say they are not engaged in their work.

With the odds against restaurant employers to retain and engage their staff, communication is key for your staff feel listened to, comfortable, and a part of the larger vision of your organization. Effective communication means staff members are likely more engaged and loyal to your business, which in turn creates more efficient operations and higher profits.

If staff communication is paramount to a restaurant’s success, it’s important to understand how you can best communicate with your staff to ensure that success. Here are four simple ways to streamline team communication so you can ensure that your entire staff is on the same page.

Leverage Your Existing Social Platforms

According to a poll from Ipsos MediaCT 80% of restaurants in the United States already use social media for marketing. Given that your staff are likely already active on social media platforms, it makes sense to use your existing posts as a means to engage and communicate with staff.

By encouraging your staff to follow and engage with your restaurant on social media channels you create another opportunity to communicate information to those within the business. By scheduling and automating your social postings using a tool like SinglePlatform you can keep your team informed without having to wait for another opportunity like a staff meeting.

Whether it’s tonight’s specials or an event that is happening soon, using a social media channel your staff members are already checking means you have a higher likelihood of communicating what is important without having to specifically call it out.

Use a Work-Specific Communication Tool

Texts or chat tools like Facebook Messenger can be great for quick one-to-one check-ins with your employees, but to really get everyone on the same page and encourage transparency in communication, consider turning to a work-specific tool that you control.

Restaurant scheduling software, such as 7shifts, provide in-app chat tools for quick and easy team communication. Rather than relying on multiple tools and platforms to communicate with your staff, simplify your operations by having all work-related communications in a single channel that they can’t miss.

Staff can use workplace-specific communication tools for one-on-one conversations, group chats, or managers can send one-way announcements to all staff.

When your main communication tool between managers and staff is part of a tool you already use – a staff scheduler – it’s easy to extend the communications benefits by letting staff complete tasks like submitting availability or time-off requests all in one place.

Go Old School

While new technology can often bolster communication, sometimes you just can’t replace good old fashioned face-time to check in on your employees, make sure they are happy with their work, and hammer out any ways operations can be improved.

If you aren’t doing it already, consider incorporating staff meals into your operations, or if that is not possible, meal allowances to staff. By treating your staff to the benefits of your business, it is an easy way to boost morale, and if you are a full-service restaurant, for the kitchen to use any soon-to-be-expired ingredients.

When staff are comfortable and feel taken care of, you’d be surprised by the valuable information they might provide that could smoothen your operations. Small annoyances that prevent your staff from performing their jobs to the fullest often come pouring out, allowing you ample opportunity to address those problems in a professional and productive manner.

A staff meal before a shift can also be combined with general information about the upcoming service, such as any menu changes or the special of the day. If you have a new menu, also consider “staff tastings” to allow your staff to gain intimate knowledge of your menu through first-hand experience in order to provide the best sell to your customers.

Other ways of “going old school” to improve staff communication is to have one-on-one staff meetings periodically to address staff complaints or find ways they or the business can improve. Going one-on-one is a good way to offer employees a chance be candid, as they might keep some issues to themselves if in a big group.

Internal Newsletters

Part of great team communication that can ultimately boost your profits involves employees feeling comfortable in the workplace and motivated to work their hardest. That all comes down to company culture, and a great way to boost company culture is with an internal newsletter.

Sending mass newsletters by email is easier than ever these days thanks to specific online tools, such as Constant Contact or MailChimp.

Newsletters can be a great way to highlight when an employee went above and beyond, as well as to make note of any upcoming changes employees should be aware of, or announce any wins the restaurant received, such as a super positive online review.

When making a newsletter, try to make it as fun as possible and really incorporate some personality into it. Don’t be afraid to go very specific in your references to funny quirks in your restaurant or inside jokes among your staff to put a smile on your staff’s faces and give them something to talk about at work that can help unite the team.

Newsletters are also a good way to break down silos between departments and get everyone on the same page. For example, you can outline how a business initiative was a great success from the efforts put in from marketing, to the great job the kitchen did on execution to the wait staff that upsold that extra bottle of wine. You’re all in the same boat – feel it!

In Closing

By making sure everyone is on the same page with easy to use technology, making better use of the social tools you already have at your disposal, and by creating opportunities for staff to feel comfortable sharing their opinions, you will be creating a work atmosphere that put communication – and the benefits that come from it – first.

About the Author: Eric Stober is a freelance content producer for 7shifts, an employee scheduling platform built for restaurants. Eric has written for publications such as Global News and the Toronto Star, and has a keen interest in travel, technology, entrepreneurship, spirituality and mindfulness.