Article originally published on nrn.com.
COVID-19 has triggered one of the highest unemployment rates on record in the United States, with the pandemic affecting bars and restaurants hard with more job losses than any other industry in the country. In fact, in April, approximately eight million restaurant employees across the U.S. were furloughed or laid off.
As the country begins to reopen, employers must rebuild their workforces quickly to open their doors. But, in an industry with a pre-COVID turnover rate in the triple digits, how will restaurants hire and retain employees at scale quickly? How can leadership ensure employees are supported, new safety policies are implemented, and customer service quality remains high at scale?
In a word: technology.
Now more than ever, the technology that connects restaurant workers with leadership and with one another is incredibly valuable. Platforms like Konverse, a mobile-first, all-in-one communication hub, provides features from chat and company announcements to training and onboarding rooms to resource intranets and more. Cost-effective platforms like these are designed for organizations with deskless staff, making it easier for operators to manage the flow of information and for employees to quickly and easily access it.
Consider three key themes restaurants must consider when re-opening their business and how technology can support these efforts.
Hiring: How to Rapidly Onboard and Train New Staff
When mass hiring staff – especially across multiple locations – your onboarding and training processes must be centered around consistency and clarity. In fact, onboarding is key to highly engaged employees. Employees who experience effective onboarding are 18 times more likely to feel highly committed to their organization.
The technology platform that hosts your onboarding content should support learning management systems like SCORM and give new hires the ability to watch video, sign documents, access key resources, and track courses all in one place.
Operators should also take into account that different locations may have different training needs. There may be some universal training content, but regional managers should have the ability to customize content to the fit the needs of their locations.
With the right onboarding and training strategy, new hires can more rapidly get to work and feel empowered by their organization.
Ongoing Business: Ensuring Quality and Safety for Patrons and Staff
Of course, as food service re-opens across the country, operators must prioritize the health and safety of their customers and employees. Clearly written policies distributed to staff is just the first step.
Communication platforms like Konverse allow operators to make all-staff announcements and tracks the viewership and engagement of its users. It also allows users to message one another, so managers and staff members can quickly ask questions, switch schedules, and stay prepared before, during, and after their shifts.
Not only that, but managers can create tasks and track completion. For example, if new hygiene-related posters must go up across locations, staff can “check off” when they’ve completed the task and managers can send reminders to those with “incomplete” statuses.
Visibility into these workflows is important for organizations with largely new staff members, because they ensure new policies are being followed and help leadership more quickly respond to employees that need support. Not only that, but teams feel accountable and in control of the safety of their fellow staff members and patrons.
Employee Support: Building Trust to Reduce Turnover
In both the short-term of reopening and the long-term of your business, operators need an internal communications strategy that engages and connects staff. A centralized hub that acts as the company’s “single source of truth” makes it easier for individuals to seek resources and for leadership to disseminate and democratize information.
As you continue hiring new employees, consider how company culture and employee engagement are playing a role in staff’s day-to-day work. A strategy that is consistent, clear, and proactive includes not only helpful resources and messages from leadership, but also gives employees opportunity to give feedback, ask questions, and seek new opportunities to learn.
Konverse was designed to support employee engagement, allowing operators to execute communication strategies that encourage and develop company culture and can improve employee loyalty and productivity over time.
Reopen Your Restaurant and Empower New Hires with the Right Technology
As restaurants across the country begin reopening, business leaders are challenged with mass hiring and rapidly onboarding new staff members. With the right technology in tow, operators can not only train staff quickly and easily distribute essential policies, but also collect analytics, encourage employee engagement, and develop staff loyalty. This, in turn, leads to smoother operations in the back of the house and gives staff more time and resources to serve customers as they begin patronizing your business once again.