Four Restaurant Technologies That Can Improve the Employee Experience
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In the world of hospitality, the customer experience is top of mind, all the time. And of course, that makes sense: these establishments exist to serve and delight patrons — and happy patrons keep the lights on.
But what about the employee experience?
After all, employees are the ones who are interacting with customers day in, day out. They wield enormous influence over every customer touchpoint. If employees are happy in their roles, they are much more likely to create a positive experience for the people they’re serving.
What’s more: satisfied employees are more likely to stick around, which means improving the employee experience is key to reducing costly turnover — an all-too-familiar pain point in the hospitality industry.
How do you prioritize and elevate the employee experience? In 2021, technology can be a restaurateur’s best friend. Here are four key features and tools that can increase retention rates, improve the customer service, and ultimately foster a healthier, happier environment for your employees.
1. Communication software
Poor communication is the root of many — if not most — interpersonal workplace issues, and it can greatly contribute to employee frustration and unhappiness.
Fortunately, it’s easier than ever to foster clear, consistent communication among restaurant teams, thanks to new and every-evolving tech tools that are available to restaurants. In addition to opening of the lines of communication, many of these options can also add operational efficiencies. Restaurant teams should consider exploring the following:
- Mobile-friendly communication tool: Your employees may live on their smartphones, but text chains are not the best place to manage workplace communication. It’s far too easy for important conversations to get lost, and text isn’t ideal for tracking or for search. Instead, restaurant teams can invest in simple standalone technology (like Slack) or take advantage of group chat features that come with all-encompassing restaurant or labor management software. Both options allow you to streamline all kinds of conversations: one-on-one exchanges, group chats, company-wide announcements and shout-outs, etc.
- Manager log book: It may be worth having a separate functionality to enhance communication among your managers. Ensuring your managers are in sync, especially when they are handing off responsibilities from one day (or shift) to the next can improve alignment and efficiency across your entire team. Again, this can be a standalone tool, or it could be part of a broader restaurant management solution you’re already leveraging.
2. Mobile scheduling software
Restaurant employee scheduling shouldn’t require a degree in logistics — at least, not anymore. Gone are the days where managers need to be lost in Excel spreadsheets or fumbling with a pen and a paper calendar. Scheduling software automates schedule-building, saving managers hours every week while helping them stay compliant with complicated labor laws.
But it’s not just the managers who benefit: scheduling software makes life easier for employees, too. This technology minimizes back-and-forth about availability and schedule conflicts, time off, and shift swapping. It also keeps the risk of over- or under-staffing to a minimum — two problems that can be incredibly frustrating for employees. Many of these platforms allow employees to request time off or bid on open shifts. They generally integrate with mobile, which means employee schedules are always in the palm of their hand.
Ultimately, mobile scheduling software is a smart way to give employees more freedom and flexibility, without losing any managerial oversight.
3. Digital tipping software
Cash management has long been a headache in hospitality. Finding ways to simplify and automate cash flow adds operational efficiencies that benefit not only operators and managers, but employees, too.
Hospitality workers are in this industry to get paid every day. However, with credit card transactions on the rise, it’s becoming more difficult for restaurants to pay out cash tips at the end of every shift. That means managers are resorting to frequent, time-consuming bank runs, or they’re switching to payroll tip outs, requiring employees to wait for weekly, biweekly or even monthly paychecks. Many employees don’t want to wait, or they simply can’t afford to — which can lead to unhappy employees and higher turnover, as they seek employment elsewhere.
Restaurants should consider leveraging a digital tipping solution — one that sends instant payments directly to employees’ bank accounts, the second their shift ends. When employee tips are instantly and securely in their bank accounts, your people are less susceptible to theft, and they’re more likely to use their money responsibly.
Ultimately, giving employees instant, unfettered access to their earnings shows you care about their financial health and well-being.
4. Employee feedback software
Feeling as though you have a voice — and that your voice matters — is a key driver of workplace satisfaction. But even when communication is strong, it’s not unusual for restaurant employees to feel lost in the shuffle, especially among large teams.
Regularly soliciting feedback tells employees that their experience is important to you. Employers can use something as simple as a Google form, or they can invest in a more robust, automated platform to ask questions and gather responses.
Of course, that’s just half the battle. Be sure to analyze the information you receive and use the data to make positive changes — or simply start a dialogue about how you can make your restaurant a better place to work.
The customer may be king (or queen), but employees are your greatest asset. As employers look ahead to 2021 and beyond, they would do well to think critically about the experience and environment they’re curating for their employees. While automating and digitizing your operations can be a strategic play when it comes to saving time and cutting costs, choosing the right tools can benefit your employees, too. And that’s worth the investment — because taking care of your people is, without question, the best way to take care of your restaurant business.