Training is more important than ever.
The last 18 months have put the restaurant industry through the wringer, but it’s not only operators feeling the squeeze. Employees are also leaving the industry at high rates and those remaining (or joining for the first time) are facing a difficult environment that has begun to lead to burnout for many.
Short-staffed shifts, frustrated or impatient customers, undertrained new hires, new safety procedures and other changes have all left employees feeling frazzled. And during a time when businesses across the country are short-staffed, the last thing you want is burnt out employees.
So, what can you do to fight burnout and, in turn, improve employee retention? Show appreciation, give employees tools they need to succeed, focus on long-term training reinforcement, and proactively look for burnout.
Recognize the signs of burnout
Keeping an eye out for when your employees are starting to feel burnt out can help you reinforce positive actions or act before things start getting too bad. Stay in close touch with your managers and ask them to look for things like frequent sick time, irritability, increased mistakes or accidents, and exhaustion.
Simple tactics can help you be more proactive in fighting burnout. Make sure employees and managers know they can talk about what’s going on at work. Schedule team check ins to get a feel for how each location is doing. And work to create more wellness focused programs.
Look for ways to streamline daily tasks
When employees are starting to burn out is when other things start to slip. Inventory might be done incorrectly or not as often. Employees might skip steps in an opening or closing checklist. They may just enter temperatures rather than doing line checks every time or refrigerate certain foods instead of throwing it out at the end of the day.
Make it easier and faster for employees to do their work and get the bonus of being able to verify that it’s being done correctly with one of the many digital restaurant technology options available. Things like customizable inventory management and food safety tech that automatically records temperatures from a Bluetooth probe make everything more efficient, saving employees hours every week.
Prioritize your employees’ health and wellbeing
Part of being proactive about looking for burnout is making wellness a priority. This has sometimes been seen as eating too much into profitability, but in this highly competitive labor market, anything that retains employees helps control costs.
Offer PTO and sick time, and make sure employees know they can take both. If you’re unable to fill shifts, reduce hours temporarily to ensure employees aren’t burning the candle at both ends. Don’t underestimate the value of vocal appreciation in team meetings. Make sure your employees know you appreciate their hard work and highlight it. Don’t hesitate to throw in something else like a small bonus or gift card to express your appreciation too.
Turn to team apps and digital schedules
Team apps and digital scheduling tools give you a two-fold benefit. You no longer have to rely on a manager’s instinct when making a schedule. Modern scheduling software can help your managers by optimizing staffed based on sales forecasts, which is particularly helpful with new managers.
Plus, employees love these apps because they make it easier to manage their schedules from anywhere, without having to text a coworker to find out their schedule, or hope the manager remembered to record a shift swap they talked about. Employees are used to managing their lives from their phones and being able to manage their job, too, is just one more way to help retain good employees.
Make learning an ongoing priority
As so many people left the industry in 2020, an influx of new employees has hit the restaurant industry. And many operators no longer have their most experienced employees to pass on deeper institutional knowledge to new hires. This means training is more important than ever, especially after the initial onboarding stage.
Operators need to focus on training as an ongoing activity, not something that’s delivered once. And think about different delivery methods. Traditionally, a new-hire packet and a week of job shadowing might have been the training a new employee received. However, you can up your game, empower employees, and reduce risk to your brand with a more comprehensive approach to training.
Mix up your modalities with job shadowing, short videos, flash cards, gamification, training guides and more. The more variety you have, the better you’re meeting the different learning needs of your employees. Make everything available in a document library so employees can access it whenever is needed and send out alerts with different training prompts on a regular basis to ensure you’re making training just another part of the job, rather than feeling like it always needs to be an event.
Greg Staley is the CEO of SynergySuite, a back-of-house restaurant management platform. Greg focuses on facilitating better visibility and increased profitability for restaurant chains through the use of intelligent, integrated back-of-house technology. For more information, please contact Greg at email@example.com.