EXCERPT: Efficient and Effective Independent Restaurant Onboarding Practices
By Lindsay Danis | In a soft restaurant labor market, proper onboarding of new hires is as important as ever.
While many operators bemoan the current shortage of qualified staff, they set up their businesses for failure by short-changing onboarding. Onboarding is the process of integrating a new employee into an organization. It makes new hires feel welcome, establishes expectations, and helps assure that new employees will be properly trained to perform their jobs.
The competition for talent begins in the recruitment and hiring process, but something independent operators may not realize is that competition continues through the onboarding process. If a new hire encounters a roadblock in onboarding, they may not make it to day one. If they don’t feel adequately trained and comfortable with the culture of the business, they could be gone within a week.
Mark Moeller, restaurant consultant and owner of The Recipe of Success, believes that onboarding provides new hires with important clues about the working environment they’ll enter. The majority of onboarding tasks are done electronically these days, which creates an opportunity for glitches.
For instance, Moeller says that often there are difficulties getting direct deposits set up. An employee who can’t get their direct deposit set up online and hasn’t gotten an answer from the hiring manager may rightly wonder about when and how they’ll be paid. With so many other options on the table, many decide to bail on the new role. “People have this perception, if this system can’t work, what else is broken in the restaurant?” he says.
“I’ve had several clients who have an issue with people trying to do the onboarding paperwork and can’t get it done, so they don’t show up for the first day of work,” Moeller says. Sometimes, the new hire will call the manager who interviewed them and leave a voicemail. If they don’t get a call back to resolve the issue, they’ll no-show to their first scheduled shift. ” Without that personal touch setting a connection right from the beginning, we’ve going to have issues moving forward,” Moeller says, explaining what the new hires are likely thinking.
Moeller has plenty of experience helping his clients troubleshoot issues like first day no-shows. Typically, an operator will approach him, confused about why a new hire decided not to show up. He’ll dig deeper by asking questions and eventually discover that the employee made an attempt at clarification, for instance, by calling the manager, but the phone call went unreturned.
“It’s all about open communication. You make people feel valued,” Moeller says. Not communicating with new hires during the onboarding process demonstrates a lack of caring and value.
Onboarding often tends to be an afterthought for busy operators. When it’s considered, it tends to be from the perspective of training a new employee in the workplace culture, policies and duties of the role for which they’ve been hired.
Given the shortage of available labor, a better way to go about onboarding might be to consider the ways to optimize it for your concept and those candidates you’ve decided to hire. Onboarding that is efficient and effective can not only set a new hire up for success within your concept, it can reduce turnover and increase employee satisfaction.
There are ways to keep communication open and build that sense of trust and value within the process. Doing so makes the onboarding process more effective because employees who arrive on their first day with positive feelings about the concept and their new manager will be more likely to commit to their role. Over time, this means a more committed and cohesive staff and less turnover.