Restaurants and commercial kitchens have always been relatively high turnover work environments, making new employee recruiting and training a constant chore for management.
A few basic procedures can help you maximize employee retention and reduce turnover, which in turn reduces costs and increases efficiency.
Cast a wide net. When you have a job opening, get the word out so that you get a maximum number of candidates. The more people you get to apply, the more likely you are to find the ideal candidate.
Use multiple media:
- Word-of-mouth by existing employees
- Paper classifieds
- Internet postings (some useful sites include craigslist.org and careerbuilder.com)
Screen carefully. Reading every resume and interviewing many candidates takes time, but it’s definitely worth it in the end. A little careful screening will save you time and most importantly money later on down the line.
Things to look for during the screening process:
Relevant job experience. The more time a candidate has spent performing a similar job, the faster they can plug in to your operation.
This can be a double edged sword however.
A candidate with many recent jobs may have problems you can’t see up front, or a candidate with a long list of experience may want too much compensation and be hard to train.
References. At least three references can provide a window into a candidate’s background and personality.
Salary requirements. Perhaps the easiest way to rule out a candidate is to ask what their minimum salary requirements are.
Interview. Ask questions that require more than a one word answer. Get a feel for how the candidate views their prospective job and where they are in their life. Depending on the position, pare candidates down after the first interview and then conduct a second interview.
Structure the screening process so that everybody who will be working with the new employee is involved in some way, no matter how small.
This will help cohesion when you bring a new person in.
Use your best resource for training your employees. Once you have selected the right candidate, make sure they have all the tools they need to succeed in their new position by taking the time to train them well.
One of the best resources you have at your disposal to accomplish this is your existing employees.
Have the new person shadow one of your top performing staff members for a few days to start. This will not only help them start to learn the details of their new job, but will also give them your restaurant’s best example of a good employee.
Create clear expectations. Nothing is more confusing to a new employee than contradictory or constantly changing expectations.
This is an easy trap to fall into, since everybody in your company will have expectations for the new guy. Make clear not only to the new employee but also to the rest of your staff what your expectations are for him or her so that you avoid crossed signals.
Set a positive example. Ultimately, your employees look to you for cues on how they are performing and what their expectations are. The best way to improve new employee and overall staff retention is to set a positive example for all employees to follow.
Create a positive work environment that values constructive criticism and mutual support. Such an environment will not only keep morale high, but will reduce turnover and improve customer service.
Check back often for more restaurant management best practice tips from The Back Burner.
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