Restaurant employee onboarding made easy

Regular hiring is a reality for many restaurants. Each time a new employee joins the staff, you must train them and introduce them to your company’s practices. A streamlined, standardized and comprehensive onboarding process can simplify the process, boost retention and enable new employees to work independently in less time.

Employee onboarding: increase retention with proper training

Employee onboarding is the process of orienting, training and integrating new employees into your restaurant. Well done, onboarding helps each new hire feel comfortable and familiar with the company; it also gives them the skills they need to perform their jobs with confidence.

Employees care deeply about proper training. In fact, Gallup research finds that learning opportunities are important to 75% of frontline employees. It’s one of the top priorities for workers — the only factors that rank higher are job growth and pay. Supportive management comes in fourth, so it’s important to hire the right restaurant manager.

Despite the importance of onboarding, only 12% of employees in the United States are satisfied with their companies’ processes.

If you can find a way to beat the statistics and improve workers’ first weeks on the job, it can have far-reaching benefits for your restaurant. In particular, improving onboarding can go a long way toward reducing employee turnover. That’s a big deal, considering 40% of turnover happened during the first year of employment.

Onboarding improves employee retention by building:

  • Confidence. Comprehensive onboarding gives workers the tools and skills they need to succeed.
  • Clarity. Employees learn exactly what they’re expected to do, so they can perform to higher standards and gauge their progress accurately.
  • Culturalunderstanding. Workers get to know the restaurant’s traditions, values, and vibe.
  • Relationships. During onboarding, employees create relationships that make the workplace more fun, friendly and welcoming. These bonds help workers feel like they belong.
  • Job satisfaction. When workers have strong social bonds and the ability to perform well, they are more likely to be satisfied with their position.

New hire checklist: what to include in your restaurant employee onboarding

A good onboarding process starts well before new hires start work; you can start building a connection right away. The first thing to do with a new restaurant employee is to provide important information. For example, you might send a welcome email that includes the orientation date, an onboarding schedule and a list of documents to bring on the first day. This strategy eliminates uncertainty and sets expectations so that employees can prepare. It also establishes a relationship immediately, which can help reduce the chances that workers will ghost you before they start — something 30% of employees have done.

Phases of the restaurant employee onboarding process include:

  1. Pre-onboarding (or preboarding). The first step of onboarding begins as soon as the new hire accepts the job offer and ends on their first day. It’s a great time to let the workers know what to expect from their first few days and weeks. At the same time, you should prepare paperwork, uniforms and other documents that help employees understand the company and culture.
  2. Orientation. This phase starts when the new employee arrives for their first day. It typically includes an orientation session, paperwork signing, setting up digital accounts, a tour of the restaurant and an introduction to the team. You might also educate the new hire on company policies and procedures, including server minimum wage.
  3. Training. At this point, the employee is ready to start learning their roles and responsibilities. For front-of-house positions, you might pair the new hire with an experienced employee for on-the-job training. Kitchen workers may learn hygiene practices, food preparation, inventory management standards and how to operate equipment, depending on their position.
  4. Transition and growth. During this stage, the employee transitions into their new job, working independently in their position. Consider assigning each hire a mentor who can offer guidance and advice. It’s important to schedule regular check-ins to answer questions, ask for feedback and identify any outstanding issues.

Every restaurant will have a slightly different onboarding process, depending on their operations. If you own a franchise, you may need to train workers in corporate policies; for fine-dining establishments, you might include educational sessions on table settings, precise serving etiquette and communicating with chefs.

Regardless of your restaurant’s size and style, the best employee onboarding process is both thorough and personal. At the end, new workers should have a clear understanding of their role and how it fits into the overall business model. And most importantly, they should feel welcome and accepted as part of the team.

As you design and execute a unique onboarding program, a new hire checklist can help you cover all the bases:

  • Send a welcome email with key dates and information.
  • Print new-hire paperwork.
  • Prepare employee handbook, job description, and benefits and payroll information.
  • Order the employee’s uniform, name tags, and any necessary equipment.
  • Create accounts for POS, time-tracking system, and e-mail.
  • Plan an orientation session and tour.
  • Introduce the employee to the team.
  • Offer standalone and on-the-job training.
  • Pair the new hire with an existing employee for mentorship.
  • Ask for feedback.
  • Check in at regular intervals.

Tips for a streamlined onboarding process

A streamlined employee onboarding process can set a positive tone for a new hire. It provides the information they need to know without hours of dry training sessions. To achieve this balance, try establishing onboarding best practices such as:

  • Complete paperwork digitally to save time.
  • Make sure uniforms, accounts and name tags are ready on the first day.
  • Announce the new hire to current employees before the start date.
  • Utilize employee onboarding software and on-the-job training to keep workers engaged.
  • Offer opportunities to socialize with other employees.
  • Explain lingo, table numbering and unique restaurant practices.
  • Assign a single point of contact for questions.
  • Offer a first-day package with branded merchandise.
  • Ask managers to communicate frequently with each new restaurant employee.

Successful restaurants rely heavily on standardized onboarding processes. In-N-Out Burger, for example, uses comprehensive training and transparent levels of development to ensure workers are fully prepared for each role. This system seems to be working — the chain is ranked as the 10th best place to work on Glassdoor, making it the only restaurant in the top 50.

To make your onboarding more successful, use these tips:

  • Involve current employees. Ask them what the new employee needs to know, and include the suggestions in the onboarding process. As a bonus, this practice can keep your team engaged and help minimize restaurant employee turnover.
  • Be organized and prepared. When your materials and staff are ready for the new hire, they’ll be able to move through the process with ease.
  • Showcase restaurant culture. Find ways to integrate new workers into the culture. Invite them to the staff tasting session before dinner service, for example, or ask them to participate in a customer’s birthday celebration.

The importance of new hire training

Training is one of the most important parts of the employee onboarding process — it enables workers to perform their jobs safely, efficiently, and in compliance with the health code. Each new hire should receive a thorough education in the skills and information they need to perform their job. For servers, this might include taking orders, working the POS system and serving meals. A kitchen-crew hire is more likely to need training in your restaurant’s food-prep practices, recipe preparation and stove operations.

Effective training typically involves the entire team. Restaurant managers and existing employees should support new workers by answering questions, offering helpful tips, and gently correcting mistakes. Your human resources team can encourage this type of collaborative behavior with employee recognition programs.

Streamline your restaurant onboarding with Grubhub

A key part of the onboarding process involves training new employees to use your restaurant’s POS technology and online ordering system. Grubhub makes this process quick and convenient by seamlessly integrating with a variety of popular POS systems and creating an intuitive operation that’s easy to learn. As a result, workers can master the procedures for in-house, takeout and delivery orders in less time. If you’re looking for ways to save time, ensure accurate orders, and improve your onboarding system, get started with Grubhub today.

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