New technology simplifies processes, but don't forget it's all about people

Since I joined the workforce more than 30 years ago, the human resources function has grown in ways that few could ever have imagined. Seeking my first job was all about scouring the help-wanted ads in the local newspaper and hoping to get called in for an interview. If that didn’t work, there was always showing up in person to fill out an application in the hope a job might miraculously open up.

Once I was gainfully employed, the paper trail was enormous. But that was then, before modern technology transformed the process. Last month I was able to see firsthand just how far technology has taken us.

PeopleMatter, a Charleston, South Carolina-based software company that targets businesses with hourly employees in the service industry, rolled out its latest products: PeopleMatter Learn and PeopleMatter Schedule. The company also debuted a new smartphone app, which allows PeopleMatter to start directly interacting with frontline employees once they are hired.

With the addition of these products, the software now enables companies to manage their applicant tracking, hiring, onboarding, training and scheduling. Thinking back to the archaic way job processing was done when I started out, it’s hard to fathom just how far things have come.

In today’s mobile social world, it was only a matter of time before technology met the demands from new generations of tech-savvy consumers and would-be employees.

In many ways such technological advances are a godsend to time-strapped restaurateurs who have been slower to embrace technology than folks from other industries.

“Now, businesses like restaurants and hotels—which typically face high turnover and disengagement—can capitalize on technology to improve process efficiency and retain their top performers,” says Gary Little, partner at Morgenthaler Ventures and new PeopleMatter board member.

With technology advancing at a rate few could have imagined, it’s anyone’s guess where we will be in another 10 years. But one thing is certain: Nothing can replace one-on-one interaction with an employee.

The restaurant business is a people business, and it all starts on the frontline with team members at the unit level. Software, no matter how advanced or timesaving, is only a tool to help operators streamline processes.

Survey after survey has shown that people who are happy in the workplace say they don’t work for companies; they work for other people. The best way to retain top performers is to appreciate them and to let them know frequently that they are appreciated, both orally and in writing.

If you want your employees to put forth their best efforts to enhance and personalize your guests’ experiences, then it makes sense for you to do the same for them.

So while it’s easy to applaud technological advances that increase efficiency, let’s remember that when it comes to success in the restaurant biz, it’s all about personal interactions. And that mantra should begin with the way you treat your employees because at the end of the day they are the real key to your success.

Feature, Labor & Employees, Technology