5 Tips for Training and Maintaining High-Performing Restaurant Employees
Keep these 5 “Rs” in mind to help reduce staff turnover
I was leaving a restaurant recently and noticed a reserved parking spot right in front with a sign that read “Reserved for Employee of the Month.” An employee parked her car in the spot and when she jumped out of the car and headed inside, I noticed she looked really excited to start the day. She had obviously been recognized and rewarded for a job well done.
The owner of that restaurant knows a thing or two about maintaining good employees!
Training and maintaining high-performing employees is as crucial to your restaurant as your food, location, atmosphere, and prices. Manage hard or hire smart. Getting it right can be one of the most difficult things you do.
Here are some tips:
Tip #1: Recruit Exceptional People
Start with a realistic job description. Ask for support from corporate headquarters, if applicable, ask your employees to contribute to the description, and use online resources such as WebstaurantStore to help craft job descriptions for all of your positions.
Before you post the job, you may want to first consider promoting from within—a great way to fill positions and recognize your high-performing employees. If they see growth opportunities, they’re more likely to stay with you long-term.
Another helpful and sometimes overlooked resource is simply to ask your current employees for referrals.
Here are a few restaurant-specific hiring sites where you can post jobs:
Tip #2: Refresh Your Training Plans and Materials
The National Restaurant Association cites “quality of training” as one of the seven attributes that people are looking for in a restaurant job.
You probably already have some type of training plan for new employees, even if it’s a very basic list of rules and tasks. But new employees will appreciate your investment of time and resources in refreshing or upgrading your curriculum.
To get started creating or revising an employee training plan for your restaurant, make a checklist for everything employees need to know based on their role, including how to use the various components of your restaurant management system. Whether employees work in front-of-house, back-of-house, or back-office positions, be sure they are fully trained for the tasks they need to do on your POS system.
Shadowing experienced employees, assigning mentors, and role playing are all effective training methods. Consider purchasing video training modules for interactive, visual learning.
Tip #3: Reinforce Training
After employees have been on board for a few weeks, conduct brief review sessions and repeat the sessions periodically. Ask job-specific questions such as these:
- Ask servers to tell you about their most challenging customer and how they handled it.
- Ask line cooks how the order handoff process is going and if they have any ideas for improvement.
- Ask your back-office staff to produce a few reports from your restaurant reporting software and explain the data to you.
Use review sessions as a learning experience for yourself too. The sessions could uncover some issues in your restaurant you weren’t aware of.
Tip #4: Respect Your Employees
Make sure you are respectful toward each and every employee, and that they are respectful to each other. Get to know them and create a personal connection so they don’t feel like just a worker.
Ask employees regularly for their suggestions for ways to improve your restaurant. You’ll probably find that they have some good ideas. They’ll feel a sense of ownership and respect when you implement one of their suggestions.
Say “Thank You” more often. This is one of the easiest things you can do to show employees respect, but we’re so busy we often forget how important it is. An employee who feels appreciated will give you their best.
Tip #5: Reward Your Employees
One of the best things you can do to maintain your star employees is to recognize their efforts and reward them with a small token of your appreciation.
Review comment cards from customers and scan social media comments to identify your top performers. Tap into the employee management component of your restaurant POS system to check their attendance and overtime hours. Sales competitions can also help identify stars. Recognize your employees in front of their co-workers.
The reward can be a preferred parking spot, a paid vacation day, a gift card, or a restaurant-branded item like a shirt or coffee mug. Ask your employees what would make them feel recognized; you may be surprised that it really doesn’t take much.
Once your team is fully on board, a robust restaurant management system makes employee labor management a breeze, with these tasks at your fingertips:
- Manage employee profiles and assigned job roles
- Monitor employee hours and overtime
- View real-time employee labor cost information
- Export payroll data for easy payroll system integration
All of us in the restaurant business know that our industry is infamous for its high turnover rates. But let’s not just accept that as inevitable. If you invest in recruiting good people, start them out with the proper training, continuously reinforce those skills, show them respect at all times, and recognize them for a job well done, you’re on your way to having and keeping a highly skilled, high-performing staff.
Learn more about how our restaurant management software can save you time managing employees and help grow your business.
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