What can a restaurateur do to ensure employee loyalty? Research shows that employees often decide within the first three weeks whether or not to stay. As much as 22% of employee turnover happens in the first 45 days.
Maintaining a good, loyal staff is challenging
With unemployment at a record low, finding and keeping good, motivated employees is difficult. The restaurant industry has been especially hard hit. Today’s workers are more educated than ever before, and they tend to be selective and specialized. While one in three Americans get their start in the foodservice industry, few are willing to stay in low-paying, part-time jobs with no benefits.
Low unemployment also means high competition for available workers. Across all sectors, workers are “ghosting” employers — simply not showing up or quitting with without notice — at higher rates than ever before. In 2017, the average tenure of a restaurant employee was one month and 26 days. And, the day an employee is most likely to not show up? Saturday.
High turnover isn’t just inconvenient. It’s costly. The Center for Hospitality Research at Cornell estimates that employee turnover can cost you, on average, $5,864 in recruiting, training, and lost productivity.
Earn their loyalty with intentional training
Strategically onboarding your employees can strengthen their commitment to your business.
Here are some steps you can take to welcome and train new employees, to set them and you up for success:
Before their first day: Demonstrate the hospitality that marks your business
You got into this business to provide good meals and great hospitality. Make sure that hospitality and positive experiences begin with how you welcome your employees.
Send a welcome email with information about your restaurant’s benefits and policies. You might touch on family meal times, uniform or dress code information, transportation/parking/carpooling, etc.
Day One: It’s more than just orientation
Orientation provides essential information, but what you need to do is ensure that your new employee feels like an integral part of your operations.
Personally introduce your new employee to their co-workers.
Assign a peer mentor who can answer questions, show the ropes, and help your new employee learn your way of doing things. This applies to every position — from your host to your dishwashers. Establishing a culture of mentoring goes a long way toward creating a welcoming and collaborative environment.
Create a structured orientation with the owner or manager to make sure that new employees learn how to do things your way from one of your leaders. This includes policies, safety, and behavior. Allow time for questions. This isn’t detailed training — rather lets them know how to succeed at your company and demonstrates their role in your business’s success.
Assign your new employee to a trainer (different from their peer mentor) to teach them the specific skills of their role, how that role operates in your restaurant, and how that role contributes to the end results — great food and customer service that brings customers in and keeps them coming back. Be sure that at each point your employees understand how critical they are to your mission.
Do a 30- or 60-day review with the employee and trainer to talk about what they have accomplished, how they can do better, and reiterate your commitment to their success.
Employee onboarding isn’t just filling out tax forms and handing someone an apron. How well you do it can make the difference between a long-term relationship with your employees and a fling.
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