Restaurant staff labor retention is one of the primary areas of focus for today’s restaurant manager. With unemployment hovering around 4%, today’s labor market is one of the toughest in three decades.
The restaurant industry knows that high turnover and unengaged employees can be costly. Operationally, unhappy employees can prevent a culture of accountability, call in late, or become no-shows, leaving you with an understaffed operation. Unengaged employees can be a recipe for disaster, especially when poor service can trickle into online reviews that affect your restaurant’s reputation.
The new tool many restaurants are turning to, in order to improve employee retention and engage with today’s modern workforce? A restaurant employee app, designed to streamline staff schedules and keep employees motivated and engaged.
Overview of How Employee Mobile Apps Have Improved Restaurant Management
The makeup of today’s workforce is changing, as millennials and Gen Z dominate the restaurant staff workforce. Your employee demographics will have different behaviors, values, and things they look for in an organization in order to commit to their work.
However, just as in many other industries, mobile app innovation in communications and engagement is adapting to improve retention of this changing workforce. Restaurants using restaurant scheduling apps, as a free tool for employees, are leveraging millennial habits to help strengthen workplace retention.
Tips for Hiring Millennials
Understand what motivates millennials
It is easier to implement policies to retain your workforce when you understand what motivates your workforce. Many experts advise that millennials want to feel a sense of respect for what they do, as well as feel a sense of purpose within their organizations. On the individual employee level, this can include fitting individuals into titles and tasks that suit their particular interests and strengths. For many, satisfaction from work is heavily dependent on the relationships they have with managers and employees. Keeping these values in mind can help you have productive conversations with potential hires and new team members.
There are many stereotypes about millennials, but some key considerations for today’s modern workforce aren’t just empty notions. Millennials do tend to be more interested in prioritizing a healthy work-life balance, so emphasizing any flexibility in shifts or workloads can be a benefit to your hiring. And compared to previous generations, millennials also tend to prioritize a friendly team environment, preferring to find a culture that suits their values rather than the other way around. Talking to potential hires about their needs and the culture of your company throughout the hiring process can help you move beyond stereotypes of millennials and find employees who are a good fit with your restaurant.
Refine your hiring funnel
After you’ve gone through the long, drawn-out process of hiring a restaurant employee, the last thing you want to do is face immediate employee turnover. One of the most powerful ways to lay the groundwork for staff retention is to use your hiring funnel to show potential hires how they can grow in your company. Start encouraging staff engagement as soon as possible with new hires by detailing training information even during the hiring process.
What You Need to Retain the Employees You Hire
Tip #1: Create a culture of engagement and recognize employees
With today’s workforce, many employees would like recognition and appreciation of their work to be a priority. By recognizing employee contributions, you can show staff that they are working toward something and support their belief that their contributions matter to the restaurant’s end goal.
The key to staff recognition is to show appreciation in real time, rather than monthly or annually. Manager-led recognition, even at the store level, can create a culture of appreciation and improve morale. This can also include fostering a sense of engagement, connecting employees to your brand.
Tip #2 – Invest in employees, in wages in opportunities for advancement
Depending on the state where your restaurant business is located, you may already be implementing changes to your employee wages. However, it can be argued that with such a high turnover rate, and the large cost of hiring and retraining, low pay doesn’t necessarily save you money in the long run. Comparing your wages to the industry standard in your location can help you understand how competitive your wages are in your locale. You can also offset costs by implementing labor-optimizing restaurant systems, optimizing your labor cost and staff schedules using forecasting and other scheduling software tools.
Although higher wages may affect some employee decisions, higher pay may not be enough to keep employees around if they don’t see future opportunities for themselves. Providing your employees a clear career path to aspire to, through opportunities for promotion and other goal targets, can also help retain long-term staff.
Tip #3 – Prioritize onboarding and ongoing employee training
Although it takes time, money, and resources to implement and maintain a training program, consistent, skills-based training can not only improve operations, but it can also reduce restaurant staff turnover.
All of your new hires should receive training information about how your restaurant operates, and how employees are expected to act. This can range from information about the restaurant, such as the ideal customer, popular menu items, and food cost information, to operational instructions, such as the responsibilities of the staff, using the point of sale, and how the front of house and back of house work together.
When employees spend time learning systems, they tend to feel invested in the result. Through using staff training videos, or peer-to-peer demonstration and shadowing, you can invest in your staff so they feel invested in you.
Although most restaurants focus on on-boarding training, ongoing skills training can be just as important for staff retention. Ongoing training in different specialty areas can keep your staff up to date with their knowledge and feeling continually challenged in their roles.
Ways Restaurant Mobile Apps Improve Engagement
Finally, in order to retain employees, many restaurant managers are turning to restaurant employee apps to improve staff engagement. There are four main ways a mobile app can revolutionize staff retention.
Enable direct communication
Successful operations depend on solid communication and teamwork between restaurant staff and managers. But in the fast-paced restaurant industry, employees aren’t behind desks, checking their emails. A restaurant employee app connects managers and employees directly, with minimal hassle.
Although some restaurant employee apps charge employees for downloads, mobile apps that come at no cost to employees are more appealing to staff and may be more widely adopted. Restaurant staff already have a mobile device for easy, seamless communication in the palm of their hand. Restaurant employee apps make that work to a restaurant manager’s advantage.
Streamline operations with efficient labor costs
A restaurant employee app can not only improve employee retention, but it can also help you optimize operational labor costs. Tools like restaurant scheduling software can help you streamline the scheduling process while maintaining authority over time off requests and shift trades. A restaurant scheduling app allows you to integrate your scheduling software with your employee’s day-to-day lives, in real time.
An employee scheduling app can facilitate things like quick and easy communication about staff schedule changes. Staff team members can exchange or pick up shifts on the app, and management can create customized approval workflows for requests. In addition to streamlining scheduling for staff, this has the benefit of allowing your restaurant management to save time and energy.
Facilitate employee recognition and engagement
With one centralized communication space, a restaurant employee app provides an opportunity for companies to share information and strengthen company culture. A mobile app can be used to provide personnel updates, as well as consistently celebrate employee achievements. By streamlining messages as one-on-one, group, or all-staff announcements, restaurant staff can stay up to date from management with news and announcements.
Engaged staff are happier, making them more productive, better at customer service, and facilitating increased sales. While not always directly related to sales or revenue, mobile apps can give restaurants the edge in recruiting and retaining employees. Because most employees are already frequently looking at their phones, a restaurant employee app can leverage the trend to grow loyalty.
Enable informed, data-driven restaurant reporting
A restaurant employee app can also help restaurant managers and operators review labor cost data and analyze trends in schedules. Whether tracking employee engagement stats, such as top performers, or who is most often late, you can help discover and mitigate turnover risks. You can also track engagement by location, identifying your rockstar teams or where additional training and attention may help improve outcomes. By understanding your labor metrics, in real time, you can make proactive adjustments to restaurant staff and management strategies.
Restaurant employee app can play a key role in staff retention
Although implementing new technologies like a restaurant employee app may seem like an upfront investment, as a restaurant manager or operator, you know that high turnover is a big expense your business. The costs of recruiting, selection, orientation and training, as well as the productivity loss, can make today’s technology, designed for today’s workforce, a wise investment in the future.
Restaurant365 incorporates smart scheduling software, restaurant accounting software and restaurant operations software into an all-in-one, cloud-based platform that’s fully integrated with your Point-of-Sale system, as well as to your food and beverage vendors, payroll vendor, and bank. If you would like to track your restaurant labor data, use tools like a restaurant employee app, or integrate smart scheduling and labor budget goals, schedule a free demo of Restaurant365 scheduling today.