What You Need to Know for Onboarding a New Restaurant Employee

October 15, 2018
After hiring a qualified candidate with experience in restaurant service, it should be a simple case of letting them hit the ground running, but unfortunately, that strategy only opens the door for disaster.

Almost all employees experience first day jitters when they report to work. It's like the first day of school or giving the first public presentation: you might be prepared, but it always helps to have someone guiding you through the day.

It is better to equip new restaurant employees with the tools they need for success and guide them through the process in order to have them feel better about the job and about themselves in the process.

To furnish the new restaurant employee with the resources they will need, implement these following four simple steps, beginning on their first day on the job as part of their onboarding process.
69% of employees are more likely to stay with a company for three years if they experienced great onboarding.
What is Onboarding?

Sometimes referred to as organization socialization or employee orientation, onboarding is simply the introduction phase of the employee lifecycle. It is the time needed to introduce the new employee to other employees, to their work station, to the business processes, and ultimately, to the culture of the organization. Without a good onboarding process, an employee may flounder and perform poorly, not because of a lack of skills and talents, but because a lack of knowledge of the company's values, mission, and processes. The onboarding process is the responsibility of the owner or manager of the restaurant and should be taken seriously.

According to a recent article from the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM), 69% of employees are more likely to stay with a company for three years if they experienced great onboarding, and organizations with a standard onboarding process experience 50% greater new-hire productivity. While onboarding has always been considered the first step in the employee life cycle, it should be incorporated in the restaurant as more than a first-day event. Depending on the scope of the restaurant's business, the onboarding process can last between 10 and 30 days. The point is to allow amble time for the employee to adjust, learn, and grow during this phase, adapting to the restaurant's culture along the way.
The employee is given the history of the restaurant, the values and mission of the restaurant, and how the new employee's role fits into the overall success of the organization.
The Four C's to Remember

Generally, most organizations have adopted what is known as the Four Cs for properly onboarding a new hire. For the purposes of the new restaurant employee, we recommend adjusting these steps slightly. The typical Cs are: Compliance, Clarification, Culture, and Connection. However, with a slight change, these are now the Four Cs that can help bring out the best of the new restaurant employee:

1. Compliance

On the first day on the job, it is very important to give the new restaurant employee a copy of the employee handbook, if one exists, any policies such as American with Disabilities Act, Fair Labor Standards Act, Sexual Harassment policies, or any other government regulations or employer policies they need to be made aware of. This is considered the foundational information that the employee needs to know the "rules of the game." Have the employee sign that they have read these policies and acknowledge that they've received a copy. This keeps everyone on the same sheet of music and protects both the restaurant and the employee.

2. Clarification

The step of clarification involves ensuring that the employee knows his or her responsibilities as it pertains to the job functions. At this step it is wise to give the new hire a copy of their job description and explain what is expected of them. This is also a good time to point out where the break room and bathrooms are located, when breaks are scheduled, the shift days and times, how to clock in and out, what to wear, etc.

3. Culture

In this third step, the employee is given the history of the restaurant, its parent company (if applicable), the values and mission of the restaurant, and how the new employee's role fits into the overall success of the organization. This is also a good time to share stories of employee parties or retreats, customer success stories, and more. The point is to try to give the new hire a feel for what working in the restaurant is like and what the big picture represents.

4. Confidence

It is difficult to gauge the confidence level of a new restaurant employee in the first few days. But instead of leaving the success of the employee to chance, it is better to help build the employee's confidence early, during the onboarding process. To do this, explain to the new hire how working at your restaurant can help them in their career. For example, if your restaurant is one that offers the opportunity for upward mobility, as in a large corporate setting, show them the steps they can take to grow within the organization. Share stories of other employees who started where they did and then rose through the ranks. Or explain how many of your employees have been able to complete college courses because of the flexible hours or reimbursement the restaurant offers. The point is to give the new hire a sense of purpose, a goal to achieve that is encouraging and that gives them more pep in their step.

The First Day

The first day of work is always confusing for the new restaurant employee. The last thing you want is for them to feel like they are on an island looking for something to do. A good onboarding process that includes the above four steps is a great start in providing the tools and resources needed to warmly welcome the new employee. With the foundation of what their job entails and what is expected, along with a good feel of the company culture and booster shot of confidence, the new restaurant employee will be engaged in their work and fitted for success.
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