Stacey has been going to The Cream Place, a cozy restaurant in her neighborhood for a while. The ambiance is good, and best of all, she loves Rick, the waiter who works there. He is smart and considerate, and she even waits out in order to be seated at his table.
As before, last Friday she took her friends to The Cream Place but found Rick missing. Perplexed, she inquired if he was on a holiday but was told that he had quit a week ago. Disheartened, she decided to get up and go to another restaurant that evening. She hasn’t been to The Cream Place again!
This may sound like an incredulous story to you, but people’s loyalty to a restaurant is determined by various factors, one key thing among them being the service or kitchen staff. That explains why so many celebrity chefs run restaurants in their names, Gordon Ramsay, Jamie Oliver, Daniel Boulud, and Masaharu Morimoto, to name a few. People love them.
Therefore, considering how important this factor is, it is a bit shocking to see that the hospitality industry suffers from an attrition of 75%. As an industry that’s heavily dependent on people, it should be doing a much better job.
Some of the reasons attributed to employee turnover in hospitality is
- Unclear job expectations
- Disconnect with managers
- Mismatch between jobs and employees
- Lack of flexibility
- Toxic or unhealthy work environment
- Inefficient communication
- Lack of recognition
- Minimal growth opportunities
If you notice here, all of them can be addressed or resolved through proactive interventions, if we take that trouble. Since this blog’s focus is only on learning interventions, we will skip some that we believe needs a different approach, such as Lack of flexibility, Lack of recognition, Minimal growth opportunities, etc. We will focus on those where we believe training can help. Let’s see how:
Make Job Expectations Clear
It is no secret that you need to hand over well-laid out job descriptions to your staff members so that there is full clarity on what they need to do. In addition to that, you need to fully train them on their respective job. If yours is a chain of restaurants, you should be able to allot enough funds to build a proper training program or license one. If you’re a small, single unit set up, you should at least create a proper on-the-job training. Create a schedule such as three- or five-day program, during which the staff member concerned would be fully trained on the job that they are hired to do. Do not give them an actual work during this period. They should know when the training stops and when the work begins. During this training, define their job responsibilities, and tell them that they wouldn’t need to do anything beyond the boundaries defined in the spec.
Connect with Managers
Another reason is that the staff members don’t feel fully connected to their managers. This creates a gap and prevents them from airing their grievances and raising their queries. Modern learning platforms come with coaching and mentoring facilities to organize and record such initiatives. They often synch with your calendar so that you do not have to remember to follow through.
Set clear agenda for these sessions. At the end of each session, build action items for both parties and follow up with them in the next session. One tip: do not call them Coaching or Mentoring. Call them One-on-One, Team-Connect, or give fancy names like Growth Velocity. If yours is a chain of restaurants with lots of employees, have the staff members meet with the senior leadership at least once in six months on a group connect. This is called Skip Level meeting.
Match Jobs to Employees
Modern learning platforms come with features to attest skillset to each employee through which you can track their learning and progress. Create a Skill Map for each employee through such learning platforms and assign to existing training programs accordingly. Your Team-Connect sessions reveal if a staff member is a mismatch for a specific role. If you find such mismatch, discuss it during the Connect sessions and discuss alternatives to move the person to a different function. Ensure that your learning platform contains training programs to appropriately reskill the employee so that they can be eased into a different role, or if there is no fitment, they can be eased out of the system in a manner that doesn’t impact the business.
Toxic or unhealthy work environment
This often stems from the lack of human resources intervention. We need strong HR to address any issue arising in the workplace, but prior to that we should create a work environment that repels toxicity.
Naturally, one key ingredient to ensure that is training. There are standard training programs available that create awareness on Workplace Bullying, Sexual Harassment, Health and Safety, Equal Opportunity, Racism and Homophobia, etc. If we offer these programs frequently, it would help spread awareness among the staff members. Also, modern learning platforms come with features such as Discussion Forums. Create a forum for each topic and encourage employees to carry out their dialogue in them. This will ensure that the topic remains active in their minds and workplace and no one can say ‘Hey, it’s just a bit of harmless racist joke! Didn’t know it’s going to be problematic!’
We need appropriate processes to establish clear communication streams. However, this is easier said than done. If you put a dollar bill into a piggy bank every time there’s a communication miss, you’ll soon be on your way to becoming a millionaire. But instead of dropping the dollar into the slit, if you use every such opportunity to learn and improve the process, the environment too would gradually improve. Anyway, we digress. There are training programs available on Email Etiquette, Conducting Effective Meetings, Assigning and Tracking Tasks, etc. You can adapt these processes and, along with that, train your team too. Also, add these to the Skillset requirements in the competency mapping so that with hard skills like baking cake, waiting table, taking appointments, etc., soft skills like conducting efficient meetings, writing effective emails, etc., too can become part of team’s skillset.
If you look around, you’ll notice that there isn’t a problem that cannot be addressed with the help of training. Note that we are not talking with hubris, nor claiming that all problems of humankind can be solved fully. But, surely, the intensity of any problem can be reduced considerably, or an effectiveness of any process can be improved via training. From the context of this blog, attrition is a serious issue that can make or break a hospitality business. And that figure hovering at 75%, the prospects are quite grim.
However, with the tools and techniques discussed in this blog, particularly around learning and development, you should be able to considerably reduce this ratio and become an employer of choice.