The Evolution of a Dish:

4 Tips for Effective & Efficient Restaurant Staff Training

Effective staff training is the cornerstone of a successful restaurant. It not only ensures consistent dish quality and exceptional customer satisfaction but also plays a critical role in employee retention and morale.

Investing in comprehensive training programs is essential for creating a cohesive and skilled team, which ultimately leads to a more efficient and harmonious work environment. However, the true value of effective training becomes even more evident when considering the high cost of staff turnover.

The High Cost of Staff Turnover

Staff turnover is a significant challenge in the restaurant industry, bringing with it a myriad of costs that extend far beyond the immediate expenses of hiring new employees. Here’s a closer look at why staff turnover can be so costly:

  • Labor Shortages and Rising Costs: The current labor market is marked by severe shortages, making it increasingly difficult and expensive to find and retain qualified employees. As talent competition intensifies, the financial burden of replacing lost staff members continues to escalate.
  • Training New Employees: Training new hires is a resource-intensive process. It often requires experienced staff to take time away from their regular duties to provide training, which effectively doubles the cost. This not only strains the existing workforce but also disrupts kitchen operations, leading to inefficiencies and potential declines in service quality.
  • Loss of Institutional Knowledge: Seasoned employees possess valuable institutional knowledge that takes time and experience to acquire. When these employees leave, they take their expertise with them, resulting in a loss of consistency in dish preparation and overall kitchen efficiency. This knowledge gap can be difficult and costly to fill.
  • Dish Inconsistency: Consistency is key in the restaurant industry. Variations in dish quality caused by inexperienced or inadequately trained staff can negatively impact the customer experience. Dissatisfied customers are less likely to return, leading to a decline in repeat business and overall business performance.

How to Enhance Your Staff Training Experience

Here are 4 tips for streamlining and optimizing restaurant staff training to empower your team and enhance operational efficiency.

Train Staff in Less than 2 Weeks

According to a recent report by 7shifts, the preferred length of training time for new employees is typically between one and two weeks, with 46.6% of respondents favoring this duration. Some prefer even shorter training periods, with 38% opting for less than a week.

However, employees generally do not want their training period to exceed two weeks. Providing easy access to information can significantly reduce training time by allowing new hires to learn at their own pace and reference materials as needed.

Do this: Develop a clear, automated training process
  • Online onboarding platforms automate administrative tasks and paperwork associated with hiring and training. These platforms can guide new hires through filling out forms, signing agreements, and reviewing company policies.
  • Digital training modules allow new hires to learn at their own pace and convenience. These modules can cover essential topics such as food safety protocols, POS systems, customer service techniques, and menu knowledge. .
  • Centralized recipe information in an accessible format so all staff members, regardless of their skill level, have the tools they need to succeed. For example, digital recipe management tools like meez make it easier for employees to follow recipes accurately and quickly.
  • Leverage task automation tools to streamline routine operational tasks such as invoice processing, inventory management, scheduling, and reporting. By automating repetitive tasks, staff can focus more on learning and mastering their core job responsibilities.

For our staging program, I ask for five days of the chef's time, and they are 100 percent integrated into our team. They will be given prep lists. They'll be working with myself, my sous chef, going through all the prep, getting ready for service. They will be in every single piece of service, serving our guests, talking with our guests. My hope is that that both guests and chef will learn more about themselves as a cook or a diner, but then also how to improve their process and their cooking and they can bring it back to their own establishments with new ideas.

Evan Hennessey
Chef/Owner of Stages at One Washington & The Living Room

Focus on Mentorship

Employees appreciate learning through human interaction in addition to having digital resources. In 7shifts study, 70% of employees prefer hands-on training programs from managers, and 44.5% favor shadowing senior employees.

This preference highlights the effectiveness of mentorship alongside other training methods. 

In-person mentorship allows for more targeted skill development and quicker resolution of specific challenges that a staff member might face. Experienced mentors share their practical knowledge and insights, which can be more valuable than theoretical training. 

Plus, they can offer support and encouragement, helping mentees build confidence in their new roles. This support can reduce turnover rates and foster a more positive work environment.

Do this: Create a professional development program
  • Conduct an assessment of each employee's skills, knowledge, and areas for improvement. This can be done through self-assessments, performance evaluations, and feedback from supervisors. 
  • Develop clear career paths and advancement opportunities within the organization to motivate employees and promote long-term retention. Outline potential career trajectories, promotional pathways, and criteria for advancement.
  • Provide guidance and resources to help employees navigate their career paths, including opportunities for promotion, lateral moves, and specialized training.
  • Implement formal recognition programs, such as Employee of the Month awards or performance-based bonuses, to celebrate outstanding contributions and motivate continued excellence.
  • Regularly evaluate the effectiveness of the professional development program through employee surveys, performance metrics, and retention rates. Solicit feedback from staff members on their experiences and suggestions for program enhancements.
"You need to create visible upward mobility so people can see, okay, if I stay here, I put the time in, I'm going to be rewarded. Many groups are now giving equity because what's better than that? You have ownership. You feel like you're a part of something. You're no longer simply a pawn in the game. You feel like you can put down roots somewhere and grow."

Eli Kulp
Culinary Director, High Street Hospitality Group

Prioritize Open Communication

Employees demand to be recognized for their work. According to 7Shifts, 64.3% of employees say that more recognition from management would increase their engagement, maintain team spirit, and increase morale. 

Effective communication minimizes misunderstandings and errors. When training instructions and expectations are communicated clearly, there is less room for confusion. This leads to a smoother training process and quicker competency for new staff members.

Streamlined communication also helps in regularly updating staff about new procedures, updated recipes, menu changes, or service standards, ensuring continuous learning and development.

Do this: Provide feedback and updates often
  • Use digital apps to engage with staff. According to 7Shifts, 36% of employees prefer using team communication apps for digitally delivered updates, such as schedules, menu or recipes, and shift changes. This preference highlights the practicality and efficiency of digital tools in the restaurant industry
  • Clear benchmarks for pay increases and promotions motivate employees and encourage retention. Programs like ‘station certification’ can offer incremental pay increases and skill development opportunities for back-of-house staff.
  • Set up regular meetings with individual employees to discuss their progress, address any concerns, and provide personalized feedback. Balance constructive criticism with positive reinforcement to motivate and guide employees.
  • Use pre-shift meetings to provide updates on any changes to the menu, specials, or service procedures. Recognize individual or team accomplishments during these meetings to boost morale and encourage excellence.
“The first thing I said to my staff when opening One Fifth was, ‘I'm going to respect you guys, and you guys are going to respect us, and we're going to care about each other, and it's a family.’ And I know it sounds cliche because every corporate meeting you ever go to you'll hear the same thing. But after like a couple weeks or a month, one by one, people will just come up to me and just be like, you know, a lot of people say it, but they don't really do it. I've never worked anywhere where people actually have each other's back instead of sabotaging.”

Marc Forgione
Owner of Respect Hospitality Group

Encourage Team Camaraderie 

A strong sense of camaraderie can lead to higher employee retention rates, as staff who feel connected to their team are less likely to leave. Notably, 60.8 percent of Gen Z restaurant workers rank their coworkers among the top motivators of daily work.

Team stability benefits training by ensuring that experienced staff are available to mentor and support new employees, maintaining continuity and consistency in training programs. 

Additionally, teams with good camaraderie are more effective at problem-solving. Effective training, supported by strong team bonds, ensures that all staff adhere to the same standards and procedures, leading to consistent service and food quality. This uniformity in dish execution enhances customer satisfaction and upholds the restaurant's reputation.

Do this: Build a workplace culture
  • Incorporate icebreakers, games, or team-building activities to make it easier for staff to get to know each other. These activities can break down barriers and encourage open communication.
  • Rotate employees through different stations and responsibilities. This practice builds uniformity in skills, fosters inter-employee dependence, and helps staff appreciate the challenges of various roles.
  • Personalize the workplace by creating a wall with photos, birthdays, favorite books, and personal interests of all employees. This helps staff learn about each other and feel more connected.
  • Encourage inclusivity by displaying information such as preferred pronouns on the workplace wall to promote inclusivity and respect for all identities. Additionally, make efforts to include all staff, especially those who speak English as a second language, ensuring that everyone feels part of the team.

"FieldTrip is about people being able to grow in their communities. Yes, it's a rice bowl shop, but it's really about empowering people like Shay who lived in, you know, a place that wasn't safe for her to live, that she was able to grow and get her own apartment, or it's about Kima who's trying to start her own hot sauce company."

JJ Johnson
Chef/Founder of FieldTrip

Enhancing Employee Happiness and Retention with meez

In the highly competitive restaurant industry, staff turnover remains a significant challenge, with rates as high as 75% annually. This high turnover not only hampers growth but also affects productivity, quality, and customer satisfaction. Leveraging technology, such as meez’s smart recipe management platform, can create a happier and more efficiently trained workforce.

With meez, you can:

  • Create Interactive Materials: By turning recipes into interactive digital formats, including videos and step-by-step guides, meez speeds up the onboarding process. 
  • Expand Your Hiring Pool: Reducing the prior knowledge required for new hires broadens the potential candidate pool, making it easier to fill positions quickly.
  • Scale Recipe Dynamically: meez enables recipes to be scaled accurately to match demand, reducing food waste and ensuring that the right amount of food is prepared every time. 
  • Keep Recipes Organized: Having a single source of truth for all recipe content ensures everyone is on the same page. Real-time notifications keep the team informed of any changes.
  • Have Complete Version Control: Controlling who can edit recipes and managing visibility of work-in-progress recipes to prevent confusion and maintain consistency across all locations.
"meez has played a pivotal role in ensuring recipe uniformity and staff accountability. The ease of use and real-time recipe updates have eliminated errors and have been a significant time saver.”

Heather Terhune
Associate Director of Culinary Operations, Tortazo
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