As a result of the pandemic, restaurants have had to make specific adjustments to all areas of their organization’s operations. Not only have they had to change their interiors, but more importantly, how every employee plays a larger role in certain demands. After months of quarantine, restaurants were allowed to reopen with new restrictions, and the way they hire, train, and onboard employees had to adjust accordingly. New CDC restrictions not only hindered capacity percentages but changed the way employees interacted with customers daily. These actions called for creating different ways to train employees based on certain aspects of the job. Use these tips to help train new restaurant employees while restrictions slowly start to decrease.
1. Conduct an Orientation
For employers, holding an orientation is usually the very first step when welcoming new employees to your restaurant. During the orientation process, experienced workers or trainers will present key knowledge about your business, practices, and other relevant information about your staff's basic performance. Usually, every orientation covers a variety of topics that are considered essential to start working.
The first area covered in the orientation is usually human resources, payroll, and other common compliance information that need to be completed. In some cases, the employer will also educate employees on outside resources like life insurance, homeowners insurance, and even home warranty services. This process also includes exploring the historical and philosophical practices of customer service. A short tour of the restaurant usually follows, leading to the introduction of key staff members, and then an overview of the menu along with an outline of the weekly scheduling process.
Recommended Reading: How to Create an Effective Restaurant Onboarding Program
2. Educate the Trainees
Following the orientation process, training is implemented to teach the basics of every position. During the training process, trainers will teach and physically instruct new employees about key elements of their everyday activities. Ultimately, for your employees to succeed, building a foundation on education and instruction will help your new workers reach their highest potential. Take this opportunity to prioritize the uniqueness of each position and how they benefit the restaurant as a whole.
Depending on the position, new employees are taught the importance of food prep work along with how the chef and his/her cooks curate the menu. Another key aspect of the restaurant is how bartenders go about their day-to-day processes. Also, one aspect that’s not as glorified is teaching new employees how to bus tables and wash dishes. A common element of every restaurant is teaching workers how to host, greet, and wait after guests. A lot of these things have changed due to COVID-19, but employers should continue to adjust.
3. Observe and Assist Method
One of the most effective ways to train any employee for a new position is to approach it by observing and helping other employees. There’s no better way to learn a new activity than to watch a capable worker do a certain task. This makes way for advanced insight, and not only will your experienced staff be able to train your new staff, but the new employees will be able to recognize common practices and also unused practices that were never taught to them.
The first step in this process is to pair the new employees with experienced employees who are assigned to the same position. The goal is to have each trainee observe and assist the trainer anywhere from a few days up to a week. Before deciding who’s pairing with who, explain to your experienced staff that they should go about their day as they usually do. Tell them to communicate with the newer staff members while answering any questions that they may have. If there is time, some employees may be interested in shadowing other positions to learn what they entail.
4. Connect With Your Current Staff
Use your current employees as resources to learn common activities and trends that go on within the company. These are the veterans that have been through building changes, staff changes, and guideline changes from pre-COVID to the reopening process. Usually, veteran employees are the people that understand what’s most important for new staff members.
Take advantage of their experience and talk to them about different and innovative ways of training new hires. Ask them what common problems, issues or tasks that arise from daily operations, especially within the training program. Take suggestions seriously, as these are what can help create a training program that makes trainees get acclimated to their position at a faster pace. Overall, use the resources that have been provided through experience to your advantage for innovative actions.
Recommended Reading: How to Create a Restaurant Staff Training Manual
5. Teach Trainees Every Position
Give new restaurant employees training in every position in the complex. Have them spend time working on the food line, behind the bar, and with the dishwashers. Then, have them work with the host or hostess to greet and seat customers. This will help them become more flexible in their duties and will give them a better understanding of what it takes to run the restaurant successfully. The more experience each employee has, the more useful they are for the restaurant as a whole.
At some point, you should give the new employees an initial task for them to experience. Some people like learning by actually doing instead of watching. Usually, new employees like to be busy, and this is the best way to make a new worker experience workday activities. This is also a good way for trainees to work alongside key people they’ll be working with daily.
6. Teach Safety Precautions
For every restaurant owner, there are specific safety precautions that lawfully they should abide by. Following COVID-19, there was an increase in safety regulations based on capacity, social distancing, along the implementation of masks and shields to protect customers and workers. Although there will be a lot of important information to cover with your new hires, food and occupational safety should always be a top priority. Emphasize these areas as they pertain to the new hires' positions and the safety of the building.
Review safety procedures and rules throughout the training process to ensure they are understood. This should include how to handle food, how to store food, and how to clean food preparation areas. Restaurants also use a variety of machines, so knowing and understanding how to avoid mistakes in these areas is essential for safety. Understanding the layout of the restaurant can also help new employees move around the restaurant with confidence. There have been some added regulations due to COVID-19, and a lot of new rules and regulations have been implemented. For example, seating has been changed along with the implementation of protective shields and masks.
7. Schedule Training Refreshers
It’s often overlooked that after the training process some employees are just thrown to the wolves. After a new employee officially joins the staff, the training shouldn’t stop there. To reinforce best practices, hold training sessions regularly to help continue building new skills. This will not only help your new staff recall everything they’ve learned before but will act as an opportunity to upgrade your seasoned staff with new techniques.
Not only will these training refreshers build positive characteristics amongst your new staff members, but they can show them that you care about their development. If there happens to be a menu change, a training session should be implemented to spread knowledge amongst the entire staff. These training sessions could also be compared to a brainstorming session. This allows the flow of new ideas of how to do certain tasks that might have never been done before. Not only will this create new ways of doing things, but perhaps these refreshers can break veteran staff members out of their old ways and create a more productive workforce.
8. Implement Employee Meetings
Separate from training refreshers, consistently holding meetings with your employees can be a great way to gather work consistency information. Creating meetings with groups or just individuals is the key ways to reinforce effective methods. These meetings don’t necessarily have to only address staff weaknesses or negative things. Use these meetings as an opportunity to initiate comradery and things your staff can do to improve your business and the customer experience.
Create an approach wherein these meetings you continue to reinforce your company's image, message, and ultimately the characteristics that prioritize the value of your customers. Try focusing on the strength of your staff and building off of positive traits. Holding group meetings every 2-3 months will be sufficient for keeping your employees attention. You can also use these meetings as employee evaluations or performance reviews. Notice which employees show a decrease in their performance and use it as an opportunity to understand their struggles or how they can improve. On the other hand, take the time to meet with employees who are excelling at their job as a result of their hard work.
Closing Thoughts: How To Train New Restaurant Employees
The keys to building a successful restaurant stems from the importance of having a workforce that believes in their management. Building a place where people enjoy their time will usually generate increased productivity and effort. Training is an essential aspect of every job, and the more effective the training, the easier it will be for employees to get acclimated to their work flow.