How to Better Train Your New Hires

By Brian Murphy, Foodable Industry Expert

The restaurant industry is finding itself in a climate that is changing rapidly — and many of theses changes are coming from sources that are beyond a restaurateur’s control. Improving the training program in establishments is one way to be in control of many issues that can adversely affect the bottom line.

Treat Each New Hire as an Investment

Each new hire represents an investment in the company. Depending on the company and the position, each new hire and all associated expenses can be as low as $1000, but this can jump to a much higher dollar amount if the position or the onboarding process requires more resources and time to complete. The days of finding someone with a pulse to cover tonight’s dish shift are long gone. Or, at least they should be.

Recruitment and the hiring process can be long and tedious when the normal workload doesn’t ever go away. Independents and smaller restaurant groups may not have an HR department to handle this workload, so hiring managers shoulder the responsibility, all of whom already have too much to do. Find the time or budget for help.

Once the right candidate has been hired, do not rush the training process and simply unload a variety of training materials on the new hire. The onboarding process should be well planned, thoughtful, and engaging. The new hire should enter the business understanding everything from the business culture to daily expectations. Providing as much information upfront about the company, beliefs, and styles of management can set the tone for a beneficial working relationship.

Remember that anything left to employees or new hires to simply “figure out” introduces risks that range from bad habits and inefficiencies to potential lawsuits. Plan ahead and plan thoroughly.

Keep Employees Engaged

Look at your training materials and decide whether or not they look remotely exciting. Chances are they don’t, so it is time for an overhaul in order to improve your training program. Training materials need to be more than a video, PowerPoint, and signature sheets. Printed documents that new hires keep and refer to are crucial, so spend some time making them look impressive and worth saving.

Never forget that first impressions work both ways, and while you are sizing up your new hire, they are doing the same of you and the entire operation. When training materials and the process look and feel like an afterthought, that is exactly how they will be executed.

Prove yourself to be the cohesive brand you are, both in public and behind-the-scenes. Be sure branding is consistent throughout all training materials and that colors are consistent. Opt for a costlier print job and hand over quality documents when new hires arrive. Employees appreciate quality materials just as much as customers do, so spring for the thicker stock and the color print job. Even better, prepare a binder for new hires. Personalizing it not only makes them feel more welcome, but also suggests that they have been chosen because you think they deserve to part of a quality establishment and team. A binder suggests they are there for the long haul, as there is a bit of permanence suggested in that stapled, put-together bunch of papers printed from the office printer.

There are options for smaller independents that are working with smaller budgets and need to choose between fancy training materials and getting another order in for the week. Plenty of free online templates exist to help improve training materials. Alternatively, there are scores of students hungry for a real-world opportunity at nearby colleges and even career tech programs at high schools. Often, these schools are equipped with the latest and greatest software and the student skills can be quite high, all for a potentially tax-deductible donation to the program.

When using software and learning management systems with employees, take the time to truly develop an intuitive system that provides training at a rigorous and deep level. Getting your employees thinking and current using a system they can refer back to for memos, policy changes, or simple questionnaires and quizzes help get their buy-in to the concept.

Show that you genuinely care about what they are thinking by actively asking for input and feedback. Keeping new hires engaged periodically with an online training management system affords you the opportunity to push information out and keep track of staff engagement.

Stop allowing the new hire process to be a reaction. Understand the significant importance in training thoroughly and consistently. Engage new hires, keep them engaged, and turn what can often be drudgery into something that motivates new hires. It is possible to build excitement for new positions and make employees know they have made the best choice by agreeing to join your team.