The restaurant industry isn’t for the faint of heart. Service industry employees know this all too well, given the restaurant and accommodation sector turnover rate is nearly 20 percent higher than the private sector overall. There are a few reasons for this lack of engaged employees, such as the large proportion of seasonal workers, but the main culprit is poor communication. This is because a lack of communication in the fast-paced restaurant industry leads to confusion, mistakes, and disengaged employees. Engaged employees feel valued or connected to the restaurant, while disengaged employees do not, and are more likely to leave for other opportunities. For restaurants looking to improve communication in both the front and back of the house, here are some tips to improve communication and promote engagement.
1. Schedule regular staff meetings All restaurants hold pre-shift meetings about 15 minutes before dinner service starts to go over that evening’s menu and other important information. However, because of a restaurant’s fast paced nature, and the irregular shifts of front of house staff, regular full staff meetings are often skipped. Fifteen minute pre-shift meetings don’t give staff enough time to voice concerns or feedback, often leaving employees feeling like they’re simply lectured to. Management can learn a lot during full staff meetings while also showing they value their employees’ concerns.
2. Forget exit interviews, do “stay” interviews to improve communication With disengagement and turnover so high at restaurants, it may be more prudent to find out what you are doing right from your most seasoned staff members. Good exit interviews are helpful in changing policies and improving retention over time. But stay interviews not only inform you of what you are doing right as a restaurant, but also lets your longest-working employees know that they are valued and their opinions on the future of your establishment are held in high regard. Furthermore, improved restaurant communication encourages veteran staffers to stay on board and shows new employees that you are thinking about long-term employment relationships.
3. Embrace digital tools with group messaging Given the speed of tech innovation, team apps provide a tremendous opportunity to advance restaurant communication and increase staff engagement. It only takes one click in a group messaging platform to send an update.
Everything from scheduling, shift changes, menu adjustments, to news can be sent instantly via group messaging instead of posted on the whiteboard in the kitchen. These team apps also give employees a private channel to communicate with managers after a busy shift and be heard. Instead of considering high turnover rates fait accompli, restaurant owners can embrace the opportunity to encourage restaurant communication and increase retention. Some of the biggest restaurant chains in the world, like Starbucks, Chipotle, and Panera, have made employee retention one of their competitive advantages, thanks to the right internal communication strategies and their engaged employees. Increasing retention via transparent restaurant communication not only improves the restaurant’s culture and expertise, it also improves the bottom line. Hiring and training new employees is expensive, and keeping valued employees long-term significantly decreases the time and money it takes to hire and train new staffers.
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