How the Gig Economy is Revolutionizing Restaurant Training Programs

Picture this:

It’s 10:00 a.m. on a Wednesday morning. You’ve woken up on the wrong side of the bed after a late shift. You’re tired, hungry and oh yeah, your car broke down so you need a ride to work.

But first food. You scroll through your phone to find the Favor app (or in some cities, Seamless) and order your usual breakfast tacos, which is delivered by an old high school friend of yours 20 minutes later. After chowing down and realizing you’re about to be late, you scroll through your phone again to find your Uber app. No surcharge? Sweet.

After hopping in the car you’re surprised to discover that the driver is another one of your high school buddies who used to work in a restaurant with you. When you ask him why he decided to leave restaurants and drive for Uber, he tells you it’s “more flexible,” adding that “who doesn’t want to make their own hours?”

When you get out and confirm payment on your phone, you stop and think, “Man, I thought working in the restaurant industry was one of the most flexible job options.”

This is the gig economy—or the environment in which temporary positions are common and organizations contract with independent workers for short-term engagements.

The gig economy is (quite literally) being “driven” by Uber, Lyft, and other companies that give hourly workers the freedom to perform all sorts of tasks, from picking up laundry, to writing term papers, on their own time.

Not only are they flexible, these gig economy applications make it easy to find a job and make money on-the-fly. As of December 2015, Uber had over 163,000 drivers (the number is expected to double by June 2016) who average $17 an hour in Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. and $23 an hour in San Francisco and New York.

The gig economy is picking up more steam. Recently, management software company Intuit released new research which found that 3.2 million American workers are actively engaged in some kind of gig work. Another study by Deloitte found that as many as 30 to 40 percent of all US workers today are contingent or working on-demand.

Why are they leaving the “normal” hourly job opportunities? One study found that 74 percent chose to become independent because of a lack of employer engagement. The study is from 2010, but it points to something really startling.

Your employees are leaving you (a real human who considers employees “employees” ) to go work for a company that communicates with its “independent contractors” entirely through a mobile device because of a lack of employer engagement. Huh?

In the battle between humans and devices, the devices are winning?

Mobile is the Game Changer

But we know it’s not just the devices. There are smart people behind the devices pumping their apps full of features and functionalities that make the job of working for their company easy, engaging, flexible and financially lucrative.

Just like the desktop computer was the pivotal piece of technology that transformed the baby boomer generation, the smartphone has become a staple in the Millennial lifestyle. In fact, 84 percent of Millennials own a smartphone and a 2015 Zogby study found that 87 percent of them say a smartphone never leaves their side. With applications for mobile banking, social media, ordering food, and even household chores available for download on the smartphone, Millennials can run their entire life with just two fingers!

The point is, the gig first talent pool has more options that are just as flexible – if not more. To keep up and stay competitive, restaurants have to look at a technology as a tool to keep the hourly workforce on the right side of their drive-thrus.

How can Restaurants Compete?

Restaurants that want to compete for the gig workforce need to beat Uber, Lyft and Favor at their own game. And as we’ve said, that game is built on a mobile-first strategy.

One way restaurants can attract, engage and retain today’s gig-centric workers is to move away from old-school training methods and onto e-learning systems that deliver training, tests and ongoing education on-demand. In other words, your teams can access training on their time and on their mobile device.

This solves several problems. For one thing, the competition for new customers is fierce and delivering a spectacular level of service with a well-trained workforce is crucial.

What’s also true is that employees want a job that will help them learn and develop their skills. And if they don’t get it, well, chances are that they’ll leave and go work for someone who can provide it.

What Does an On-Demand Training Solution Look Like?

So we’ve established that the next-generation workforce is tech-savvy, connected and are looking for opportunities to learn and collaborate on a mobile device. But what features should you look for in a great on-demand training solution look like?

1. On-demand training is mobile and social

Your employees are on their mobile phones more than three hours a day (except during their shift, of course!) With a mobile, social e-learning solution, training can be broken up into small chunks, which makes it easier to retain more information than if they were in a long, drawn-out lecture.

Adding in the social elements keeps your team member engaged—whether they’re all in one store or across 20.

2. On-demand training is customizable

Your employees make up different positions within a restaurant and learn at different speeds. But old-school training programs take a one-size-fits-all approach. A customizable e-learning solution makes it easy to create content, courses, and tests for each job-or-learner-type. Are some of your employees visual learners? Upload videos from youtube or quickly record your own. Do you need to provide training in both Spanish and English? You could create two different lecture and test tracks to accommodate all your employees.

At Monkeypod Kitchen by Merriman in Hawaii, HR manager Christie Snopko built a branded academy in HotSchedules Train to house all of their locations’ training and development materials. When there is a change to the menu, she can easily upload new or edited documents and then create a mandatory test for specific team members.

3. On-demand training leverages reward systems to show progress

On-demand e-learning systems are a great way to motivate a workforce who say they want to feel a sense of accomplishment in their job. You can gamify your training system to award points or badges. You could even assign those badges real-life rewards, like bonuses, movie tickets, gift certificates, books or an extra day off.

4. On-demand training helps facilitate succession planning

On-demand systems make it easy to track and report your employee’s performance over time, which is great for managers who are looking to provide more advancement opportunities. e-Learning tools give managers simple graphical views of their employee’s progress. This real-time information makes those in-person conversations about new opportunities more objective and effective.

The management team at Monkeypod Kitchen use HotSchedules Train as a method of testing their employees’ level of commitment to ongoing training and career development. If an employee wants to transfer to a different department for example or move into a manager role, the HR team can assign a specific course to track the employee’s progress up until completion.

News and information presented in this release has not been corroborated by WTWH Media LLC.