Restaurant training is a rite of passage most Americans are familiar with: recent data shows that 6 out of 10 adults have worked in a restaurant at some point in their lives. Hiring new workers can cost a lot of time and money, so it’s in every restaurant owner’s best interest to make a positive impression to retain employees. Therefore, it’s imperative that restaurants mindfully welcome and train their staff.
Give Informal Bonding Opportunities
Team-building activities and cheesy icebreakers sometimes cause introverted new employees to shudder. However, there are many lower-stakes ways you can encourage new employees to get to know other staff members, thereby improving communication and morale. Consider organizing a group outing or even allowing workers to stay back once a week after hours to enjoy a meal together. Creating personal connections can make employees feel more invested in their work and more likely to stick with your restaurant.
Welcoming new staff with a mentoring program can be extremely beneficial for both the mentor and the mentee. Sun Microsystems found that both mentors and mentees were much more likely to receive a raise or a promotion by participating in mentoring. Surprisingly, as of 2019, only 46 percent of restaurants offered a mentor program. While it may seem tedious to organize, a meaningful mentoring program can help create lasting bonds and motivate employees to be the best version of themselves.
Give Meaningful Praise
According to Harvard Business Review, it’s important to praise your new employees, but certain types of praise will take you farther than others. Avoid vague statements like, “You’re doing great!” Instead, give precise compliments: “I love the way you handled that interaction with that difficult customer earlier. You have great communication skills!” This specific positive reinforcement can go a long way in helping new employees feel like they are on the right track.
Turnover in the restaurant industry is at an all-time high. As of November 2021, resignation rates in the restaurant industry had jumped from 4.8 to 6.9 percent. Abrupt line-up changes in your restaurant can have enormous trickle-down effects on your service quality. A great way to be proactive about potential turnover is by cross-training employees. This means training new employees for both front-of-house and back-of-house roles. If an unexpected resignation occurs, there will be more people who can fill in temporarily. Beyond that, cross-training improves communication between teams, minimizing misunderstandings and frustrations.
An employee-in-training learns new information every day, from menu item descriptions to standard operating procedures. Even the most promising new employee can’t retain every single fact, so having an employee handbook is a great idea. This will also help new employees feel less overwhelmed by having a go-to way of looking things up when in doubt.
Consider Supplementing In-Person Training with Online Training
In-person training is essential for restaurant employees to get a lay of the land; however, there are many instances where in-person opportunities are limited. This has been especially true during the COVID pandemic, as some restaurants are still operating with reduced hours. An efficient way to train staff members is to consider shifting some training modules to an online program. This also allows for greater flexibility for your new employees to complete the training, when convenient or during slow periods.
While statistics about employee turnover may feel daunting, giving thought to how you train and welcome your staff can go a long way in building a long-lasting team for your restaurant.