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7 Restaurant Training Best Practices to Curb the Turnover Epidemic

Posted by Brady Thomason, NetSuite Solution Manager, Restaurant & Hospitality

Restaurants are well known for their high turnover rates. The Bureau of Labor statistics cite upwards of 70% turnover for the industry at large. Still, restaurants remain a thriving global business that contributes 8.7 trillion dollars annually and accounts for 10% of the world's GDP (Gross Domestic Product). In the US alone, over a million restaurant locations employ over 15 million people.

It's a great time to be in the restaurant business, and high time to address an industry-wide epidemic: high turnover. Solid employee training is perhaps the greatest tool in a restaurant manager’s arsenal to decrease turnover and drive bottom-line profit. Most experts would agree that poor training yields high turnover, but if that isn’t followed up with a genuine, unyielding company-wide commitment to make world-class training a non-negotiable, restaurants will continue to dump dollars down the drain.

How a Training Program Can Decrease Employee Turnover

According to a TalentMLS survey on the food and beverage Industry, employees listed proper training as one of the top three reasons they would stay longer at their current company. There are a number of reasons for this correlation between training and decreased turnover.

First, training programs are intended to help employees gain crucial skills to perform their jobs better. Regular training leads to more motivated and confident employees and enhancements in teamwork, on-the-job performance and company loyalty.

Another way training leads to higher retention is through the development of positive relations between employees and management. During the training process, management and employees have a chance to build relationships and rapport, which leads to smoother ongoing operations.

Finally, the training process also defines the expectations managers have of their employees. Setting clear standards for new hires eliminates confusion, creates an environment where top performers excel and develops more accountability across the organization.

Forget the “Backwards Mentality”

One reason restaurant owners might neglect training is the perception of a lack of time or money. However, this thought pattern is a backwards mentality, as proper onboarding and training processes actually save restaurants money.

An upfront investment in training leads to more efficient operations and less turnover, which TDn2K reports at over $2,000 per hourly employee and over $15,000 for managers. Your training program is the first line of defense against costly employee turnover.

Drop the backwards mentality and develop a training program that sets your restaurant up for future success.

Training Program Tips

The training program for every restaurant will be slightly different, but the tips below are useful guidelines to help craft your training strategy.

  1. Develop a Training Program with Purpose – A training program should be designed to align employees to your company standards. Training should mold employee’s skills and work ethic into the company culture, and trainers should provide trainees with tons of feedback on their performance during their training period.
  2. Build an Inclusive Program – Your training program should apply to any new hire, whether they are a skilled employee or a newbie to the restaurant industry.
  3. Choose the Right Training Channel(s) – There are many different channels to build restaurant training, such as online, offline or in person. Choose the right channel, or a combination of channels, to effectively engage and train every employee.
  4. Focus on the Right Way to Do Things – Don’t develop a program around what not to do. Instead, teach employees the right way to operate within given roles. Employees want to know your expectations and will thrive in an environment where expectations are crystal clear.
  5. Offer Ongoing Training– Good training programs do not take a one and done approach. The right approach is to offer ongoing training, ideally once every six months, as this will lead to a better equipped and more skilled staff.
  6. Hands-On Training is Key – No training program should be totally online. Employees, especially those in the restaurant business, need experience shadowing employees and working with other people, in addition to any online or offline training you provide.
  7. Wait Until the Time is Right – promoting prematurely or letting an employee go live before they’re ready out of necessity is all too common and one of the worst mistakes an operator can make. Making a rash decision to promote someone before they’re ready is bad for the employee, morale, your guests, and your bottom line. To keep yourself from getting backed into a corner, check out The Key to Reducing Turnover in Your Restaurant is a Well-Defined People Plan.

Train Employees and Keep Them Longer

A staff training program is an essential component of any restaurant operation, which will also help reduce staff turnover. A good training program develops skilled, motivated employees that feel greater loyalty to the restaurant operation as a whole. In an industry where high turnover costs can have a crippling effect on financial viability, it pays to spend time and money to train staff.