Dealing with low employee morale can be difficult for any business, but in the fast-paced world of restaurants, it can threaten to destroy both the experience of your guests and the longevity of your employees. With employee acquisition costs and turnover higher than ever, here are tips for avoiding low morale in the first place:
1 – Invest in Your Training Program
Millennials and Generation Z job seekers already devote much of their day to reading and interacting with screens, whether they are browsing LinkedIn on their smartphones or creating resumes on Adobe’s tablet app and using one-click applications during their job search. Outdated training videos, or even outdated ways of presenting training videos, may cause younger prospects to doubt your restaurant’s viability as a long-term opportunity. Without even factoring in upgrades to the technology used in training, restaurants are already making a huge investment in the training process. As a result, it is in your best interest to create a good first impression with younger new hires by using familiar technologies, including touchscreens and interactive software to reinforce the hand motions employees will have to make on the job and deliver a more realistic simulation of these experiences.
According to a Cornell study, companies spend 14% of the $5,864 cost to replace an employee on training and orientation. Cornell researchers attributed most of the cost of replacing an employee, 52%, to productivity loss. Before the training process even begins, however, the average company has already spent 31% of this cost on recruitment and selection – emphasizing the importance of implementing an effective training program in order to recoup this investment.
2 – Build a Strong Culture
A study by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) found that 19.1% of food services workers used illicit drugs, compared to 13.7% for workers in the arts and entertainment industry, which was the second highest job category. Because of the high turnover rate as we reported previously, less experienced managers may develop the wrong mindset when it comes to handling employees who violate company policies. They may choose to ignore the situation, falsely reasoning that holding people to a higher standard will cause more workers to quit. What these managers fail to account for, however, is the number of people that would join their team and stay longer if they were assured that their workplace’s culture aligns with their own morals and outlook on life.
While it presents many opportunities, the latest technology does not automatically improve your restaurant’s culture. Digital scheduling software allows managers to easily change schedules, which can be stressful for employees with children who need to be picked up at a certain time from school, for instance. Emily Guendelsberger, a journalist for Vox, returned to the fast food industry to see how the work environment has changed since she left her food service job 10 years ago. She felt that the workday was less predictable and that she had less control than her initial experience as a QSR employee – two qualities researchers have cited as being important for maintaining a healthy life. With a strong workplace culture, employees may feel motivated to fill in for co-workers who can’t make their shifts, especially if managers recognize their willingness to help the restaurant run smoother, such as by giving a gift certificate or Employee of the Month designation to workers who fill in for others on holidays.
3 – Update Your POS Software
Younger generations expect their place of work to have up-to-date technologies with the same feel as the devices they use at home. In fact, 94% of Millennials already use their smartphones as restaurant customers, and 36% want employers to improve their technology. With 4GB of memory , many new POS tablets are approaching the specifications seen only on powerful desktop computers just a little over a decade ago, making it possible for restaurant operators to offer their employees the same jitter-free experiences they are used to having on iPhones and iPads. Intuitive software reduces training time and frustration for younger new hires, as they are already familiar with the swipe gestures needed to navigate a tablet. Restaurant tablets allow workers to interact with guests more effectively. For instance, servers can send drink orders to the bar while waiting for a crowd of customers to order their food, helping them feel more capable without needing to add staff to assist large parties.
For more tips on workforce improvement and handling younger generations of workers, see our posts on using artificial intelligence in your restaurant and how QSRs and fast casual restaurants can prepare for Generation Z.