Restaurant Employee Onboarding: Tips to Perfect Your Process
Your staff is the backbone of your business. The immensely successful entrepreneur, Richard Branson wrote, “No matter your industry, your employees are your company’s real competitive advantage. They’re the ones making the magic happen – so long as their needs are being met.”
Everyone wants to feel like they’re being set up for success when starting a new job. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. Shoddy planning, time restrictions, and a lax attitude can push these critical orientation measures to the side, bringing staff on quickly, without the resources they need to excel. Employees who don’t receive a formal onboarding process are likely to feel overwhelmed and dissatisfied with their job, leading to more turnover.
Restaurant Employee Onboarding
National Restaurant Association found that the hospitality industry turnover rate was at 70 percent in 2017 for the second consecutive year. O.C. Tanner Blog found that up to 20% of turnover happens within the first 45 days of employment. This trend is based mainly on informal, unstructured onboarding processes where employees are left having to learn the ropes by themselves. You need formal onboarding so that your new employees get off on the right foot and to improve job satisfaction.
So, what does it take to provide restaurant employees with an onboarding experience that makes them feel confident and satisfied with their position? We put together a restaurant onboarding checklist to address during orientation and training, as well as interview questions to help ensure your new hire is the right fit.
Restaurant Interview Questions
Onboarding starts with the interview. The interviewee should receive accurate information about your company and the job for which they are interviewing. You should also be prepared to ask questions which will help you decide whether the candidate is fit for the position.
Here are a few examples of restaurant interview questions:
- Why do you want to work in the restaurant industry?
- How do you handle conflict with co-workers?
- What is your favorite part of (job title)? What is your least favorite part of (insert job title)?
- How do you define being a team player?
- Tell me about a situation where you provided excellent customer service.
- Tell me about a time that a customer wasn’t happy with their service. How did you handle it?
You can customize these questions to fit any position in your restaurant. In general, these questions should help you gauge some of the most crucial factors of working in a restaurant – being a team player and providing excellent customer service.
Although it may seem obvious, looking for the right personality for the position is crucial in the restaurant business. For a hostess, you’ll want someone that is friendly. Since this is the first person a guest will see when they enter your restaurant, you want someone polished and composed. Someone that is a team player is important too. A hostess is ideally someone that is willing to jump in and help where needed (i.e., bussing tables, dishwashing, etc.). What you look for in a back of house employee might be a little different. For example, if you are hiring a chef, you’ll want someone that is a strong leader, organized and has excellent time management skills.
No matter how experienced your new employee is, they need an orientation. Orientation should be conducted right away on their first day of employment.
Here’s a list of a few items you want to make sure you cover in orientation:
- Complete Paperwork: This should be printed and ready before they arrive. Some of this paperwork could include contracts, tax information, direct deposit document, etc. You’ll also want to provide a copy of the employee handbook and a copy of all paperwork completed.
- Company Information: This is the time to go over details like your restaurant’s history, mission, and goals.
- Policies: Go over any policies you have in place such as dress code, attendance, behavior policy, etc.
- Reviews: How often will you be conducting a review? Make sure the new hire knows this information.
- Scheduling: Do you have a paper schedule or is the schedule done electronically? Let employees know where to find their schedule. You’ll also want to go over scheduling policies. Some common scheduling policies you’ll want to go over are the following:
– If employees swap shifts, how far in advance do they have to let management know?
– How early in advance do employees need to request time off?
– What is your policy if an employee is sick?
- PTO/Sick Time/Benefits: Inform new employees about the benefits available, as well as how many PTO and sick days they’ll receive.
- Questions: Afterwards, allow the new hire to ask any questions about the material covered.
According to Portland State University, all onboarding processes should also include the following 4 C’s:
- Compliance – Company rules, policies, etc.
- Clarification – Breakdown of job requirements
- Culture – Give interviewee a sense of what your restaurant company culture is like.
- Connection – Explain the importance of forming relationships with co-workers. This helps with overall communication and restaurant employee retention.
You’ll want to make sure to familiarize the new employee with the 4 C’s during the orientation. It’s useful to acclimate potential employees with the 4 C’s in the interview as well. This method will give them a better idea of what it’s like to work for your restaurant and decide if they’ll be a good fit.
Restaurant Employee Training
The first day is probably one of the most important days for an employee. Give employees the structure and connection they need. A restaurant employee training checklist is imperative to the onboarding process.
Here’s what you’ll want to cover during the restaurant training process:
Introduce the new employee to all current employees, then let these employees give an overview of their position.
The new hire should know what they’re expected to do in their job role. It is best to have this in writing and includes goals you’d like the new hire to hit. For example, for a server, a goal to set could be to have menu details memorized by their third week of working at the restaurant.
Ensure you have the tools in place that the new hire will need before they start training. This tip is especially important if you have any technology within your restaurant. If they’re a front of house employee, they’ll need to know how to use the POS and restaurant reservation system. For back-of-house employees, they’ll need to know how to use the kitchen display system, hardware, and recipe viewer.
Menu training and tasting
This not only includes knowing the food items but understanding the details. To make sure servers have a clear understanding of your menu, you could administer tests to make sure that they know what they’re selling. This test would be especially useful at ethnic or fine dining restaurants. Also, being knowledgeable of wine or alcohol pairings is essential.
If possible, have a 2-4 week training period where the new hire follows around a server or observes in the back-of-house, depending on role.
After training is complete, assign a point person for the new hire to go to if they have any additional questions.
Your goal should always be to create an environment where your employees feel comfortable voicing their concerns. Get the new hires feedback on the training process. What other ways could you set them up for success?
Onboarding in Your Restaurant
A formal restaurant onboarding process does take more effort early on from management, however, in the long run, you’ll find that it saves you time. When restaurant employees feel like they have the tools and training they need to succeed, they’re more likely to stick around at your restaurant. Your restaurant will run more efficiently, and it will be an overall happier place to work.
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About the Author
Emily Wimpsett was a Content & Social Media Specialist at QSR Automations. Emily was born and raised in Louisville but considers herself a die-hard University of Kentucky fan. For college, Emily attended Indiana University Southeast and obtained a degree in Communications with a track in Advertising. In her free time, Emily enjoys just about every water related activity but she is partial to kayaking and whitewater rafting.