How some brands are keeping employees engaged. 

Where are all the employees? 

It’s a question that restaurant leaders have been asking for months now, and there doesn’t seem to be an obvious answer. As a result, there have been myriad stories of restaurants upping their hourly wages, or offering benefits that they did not previously offer. But there have also been the stories that make some of these strategies moot—the ones where restaurants can’t get anybody to even show up to an interview. 

One good strategy for restaurants stuck in that challenging predicament, says Ray Abramson, chief operating officer of MeazureUp, is to double down on investing in the employees that are showing up to work. He believes that putting employees in a position to succeed will lead to greater employee satisfaction, longer tenures, and a better work culture. 

“Ultimately, making sure the employees you do have feel supported is the most important thing you’re going to be able to do right now,” Abramson says. “And yes, you definitely need to make sure they are well compensated and feel like they are part of an equitable workplace. But you also have to give them the tools that will make their jobs that much easier, and let them focus less on troubleshooting and on interacting with staff and customers.” 

Here’s a look at two areas where Abramson believes restaurant brands can help build a better culture and a restaurant that thrives despite the ongoing labor crisis. Readers will note that neither solution involves hiring more employees. 

Clearer Expectations 

One Gallup poll revealed that, in 2016, only about half of the workforce felt like they understood what their expectations were at work. It stands to reason that the number might be lower at restaurants in 2021 considering how often employees in shorstaffed restaurants are having to multitask. 

Abramson recommends organizing work flows in a way where each employee has a clear understanding of what their expectations will be when they walk through the door. Utilizing MeazureUp’s digital checklist platform DailyChex can not only help manage expectations of what needs to be done at different times of the day, but streamlining the opening and closing processes will also help free up managers to focus on other day-to-day operations. 

“When you’re organized and doing things correctly, everyone is able to move faster,” Abramson says. “Any uncertainties is where issues stem from. So if you can get things done in a more organized fashion, that’s more time everybody can spend time actually serving customers. But again, it also just makes your job more fun and focused rather than spending time on the checks and balances that nobody really wants to be spending more time than they should have to on.” 

Checklists to Ensure Brand Consistency 

For multi-unit restaurant brands and franchises, consistency across stores is vital. For that reason, many brands use daily checklists for operators to run through and ensure each detail is receiving proper attention. Once the standard, paper checklists are cumbersome and do not offer store level insights to brand leadership in real time. Furthermore—and more to the point when it comes to the discussion of labor—paper checklists can feel like a waste of time for managers if they are routinely filling them out and putting them in a binder never to be seen again. 

One way to get store managers dedicated to the store checklist process is by digitizing the experience with DailyChex, where each store has a checklist that can be customized. Ultimately, this will make for happier, more engaged employees, Abramson says.

“This is a system where you can input very specific instructions to help managers get set up or closed down in a hurry,” Abramson says. “And it offers the brand transparency into each store, making it easier for them to make sure everything is being done correctly.

“We can’t solve the crisis,” Abramson says. “That’s a problem much bigger than MeazureUp. But for the workers you do have, we make their work lives as easy as possible. We’re there to remove any ambiguity, cut out the learning curve, and give them the best possible tools to tell employees exactly what is expected of them.” 

For more information on surviving the labor shortage, visit the MeazureUp website.

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