The landscape of the restaurant industry has changed forever due to Covid and the operational complexities that the pandemic introduced. As brands scrambled to change their business models – whether through the adoption of touchless payments, delivery and curbside pickup, or the use of QR codes to access online menus – consumers were also forced to adapt their dining behaviors.
These pivots in the face of the potential collapse of an entire sector highlight the amazing resilience of people who work in the industry – nimble and imaginative employees who have been critical to the survival of restaurants across the country. It’s become clear that many of these changes are here to stay considering that they’ve created efficiencies, added new revenue streams, and guests like them.
Even with this good news for restaurant operators, many challenges still remain – particularly around staffing in both the front and back of the house. A recent survey of restaurant operators by the University of South Florida School of Hospitality found that hiring and turnover was their number one challenge.
But there are tangible ways to mitigate these hiring and retention challenges, and they all start with putting the restaurant’s team first and foremost. From recruiting to retention, if the employee experience is positive and fulfilling, loyalty is fostered, and staff is more likely to stay put.
Restaurant people are “people-people.” They enter this demanding industry because they truly enjoy creating excellent guest experiences through outstanding food, atmosphere, and service. Providing the restaurant’s team with tools that streamline operations and create efficiencies, keeps them front of house, enabling them to do what they do best: make delicious food, build and work on great teams, and provide a superior guest experience.
There are multiple ways for employers to address retention, including the implementation of learning and development initiatives. Restaurant operators could define a structured talent development program that guides high potential employees through a progressive blended learning program, laying out a logical career path and fueling their growth. By providing training focused on life skills that extend beyond the restaurant environment, such as communication, goal setting, and leadership, this demonstrates holistic investment in the workforce.
The intersection of technology and training has created vast opportunities for restaurant brands to think about the employee experience as much as the guest experience. Getting both of these right leads to better outcomes for everyone who works in a restaurant and who visits one – a true win-win for all.