Nearly 7 percent of restaurant and hospitality workers left their jobs in a single month last year, a historic number that is more than double the national average quit rate.
In many ways, attracting, retaining, and onboarding employees has become the defining challenge for many restaurant owners and managers, supplanting pandemic-related restrictions as the most significant impediment to growth and sustainability. Three-fourths of restaurants (74%) say their top challenge is recruiting employees, according to the National Restaurant Association's mid-year supplement to the 2021 State of the Restaurant Industry Report.
When employees quit, restaurants have more than just an initial staff shortage. Assimilating new hires can be an arduous process as orientations, compliance training, and other tasks increase the time it takes to get fresh talent to the restaurant floor. Automation technologies can help by allowing restaurants to streamline employee onboarding without compromising new hire readiness.
For restaurant owners and managers grappling with hiring challenges, here are three ways that automation technologies can streamline employee onboarding in the year ahead.
1. Reduce Back-of-House Training Requirements
Just getting prospective employees to show up for an interview can be challenging, so once a hiring manager recruits a new worker, restaurants want to get this person on the floor as quickly as possible. This process often comes to a screeching halt as a long list of training requirements takes days or weeks to complete.
These training requirements include everything from etiquette and uniform guidelines to safe handling and compliance instruction, and restaurants can’t diminish employee readiness in the name of expediency.
However, restaurants can automate many back-of-house tasks, removing these responsibilities from employee training regimens.
For example, temperature checks on hot and cold storage items were once critical for food safety and compliance measures, requiring copious records and significant manpower to maintain. Internet of Things (IoT) technologies are well equipped to measure and report these temperatures, relieving staff of this obligation and eliminating a training requirement for new employees.
Simply put, restaurants are responsible for equipping their new hires with the skills and capabilities needed to perform their role effectively. By lowering the number of tasks they need to complete, restaurants reduce the training requirements and hasten the onboarding process.
2. Simplify Front-of-House Practices
The ongoing pandemic forced restaurants to adapt in many ways, creating new revenue-generating services that enhance diner experience but complicate front-of-house training requirements.
Implementing automation technologies can help maintain these operations without requiring excessive or cumbersome employee onboarding requirements.
For instance, many restaurants are investing in self-ordering kiosks that empower people to place their own orders at their own convenience. In return, new workers have less to learn, making it easier to get new hires to the restaurant floor.
Similarly, restaurants can implement other automation technologies that respond to customer trends. Things like automated pick lockers for distributing take-out orders can reduce staff stress while also lowering the number of day-to-day responsibilities that new hires need to master before they can alleviate the talent shortage.
3. Utilize Automated Training Courses
Many restaurants have to wait for a designated trainer to equip new employees with critical information. However, with many restaurants short-staffed, these trainings can create log jams that prolong the onboarding process.
Armed with the right technologies, restaurants can allow employees to complete personalized onboarding and training seminars, provide critical instruction and assessment, ensuring employees are ready to hit the ground running on their first day.
By reducing the number of people required to integrate new employees, restaurants can optimize their capacity to replace or increase staff in a challenging hiring environment.
People are ready to eat out again. The most recent insights from the Morning Consult surveys show that diners feel safe eating in restaurants, and they are looking for opportunities to do so.
When restaurants reduce their hours, operate short-staffed, or close altogether because of persistent hiring challenges, they are losing out on today’s revenue and tomorrow’s foot traffic that are foundational to sustainable, thriving restaurants. Automation technologies can help restaurants expedite the employee onboarding process by simplifying front-of-house practices, reducing back-of-house training requirements, and optimizing food safety protocols.
When implemented effectively, automation can streamline employee onboarding, positioning them to thrive at a critical time.
About the Author
Manik Suri is the Founder and CEO of technology company Therma. Therma IoT-powered temperature monitoring and analytics prevent food, product, and energy waste - leading drivers of climate change. Therma has partnered with national restaurant brands to supply chain leaders in food and healthcare to increase profits while protecting our planet. Suri also co-founded the Governance Lab (GovLab), an innovation center at NYU that developed technology solutions to improve government. He is a former Affiliate of Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society and has held positions at global investment firm D.E. Shaw & Company and the White House National Economic Council.