Talent retention in the restaurant industry and high turnover has always been an issue in the restaurant industry. Lately, as we’ve reached the tail-end of a major disruption of the industry, restaurant labor issues have been a focus as a significant number of hospitality workers have chosen to shift away from the industry to further their education, get jobs in other sectors, and otherwise pursue other goals.
As restaurants and food services organizations seek to redefine what great service means for the rest of the decade, how do they best address this immediate problem of labor shortages? As they address the larger issues as to how to make restaurant service positions more attractive, how does advanced restaurant technology help organizations create a more supportive environment for workers, and ultimately a better experience for guests by extension? Here are some ideas to consider.
Technology to support, not replace
Innovative restaurants and food services organizations know that the way forward is not to replace people with technology to address greater efficiency and cost-savings. Instead, they seek to grant service teams more focus to make their work more meaningful, less stressful, and generally more efficient. This is to meet the primary goals of the business; higher volumes, check sizes, and profitability.
Everyone wants to be good at their job on some level and to then be valued and rewarded accordingly when they do their job well. Investing in technology to enable that deep-seated desire is important to instill pride as much as it is to remove stress. When workers have the solutions they need and the infrastructure in place to support their success, that’s when they begin to feel like what they are doing is important, has impact, and is valued. Investment in technology to support staff reflects an investment in staff empowerment, too.
Taking the stress off staff by diversifying how guests get what they want
What are some other ways to empower staff and help ensure they are successful? One way is to change the dynamics on how to define and then deliver the best possible guest experience. This has been illustrated very well by the incredible spike in mobile-based ordering via third-party apps in 2020 and 2021, and by QR scans at locations or from websites. Mobile technology and systems that support it have changed the landscape for good by diversifying how guests get what they want while taking the pressure off staff to have to manage the details of every order and instead allow them to focus on fulfillment.
That’s not all, though. Kiosk options and tabletop options also contribute to expanding the options for guests to interact with an offering in a meaningful and accessible way. The results are reduced line-ups, shorter wait times, and fewer missed details. When staff aren’t stressed by lines of impatient customers, dealing with order errors, and are instead supported by the solutions in place to enable their best work, those staff are more likely to remain in their jobs, and in the industry.
Technology handles the details, staff handle the experience
Luckily, the restaurant industry has been moving in this direction for a while. Innovative organizations are centralizing menu management to reflect the details of the offering. The details are managed by the solution, ranging from specials to daypart and seasonal specific items, to combos and new items. This is complete with integrations across the board to help staff promote the offering more effectively without having to keep track of the details themselves.
When the menu display, POS, and KDS solutions are in synch via seamless integration, and when everyone at every station knows that the pricing and details of items is correct as managed centrally in the cloud, they can focus on speed, courtesy, and creating a friendly atmosphere for the betterment of the guest experience. When it’s easier for them to do their jobs well without too much on their shoulders, that makes for more rewarding work.
Technology can’t solve every problem right away
The labor shortage in restaurants situation touches on elements that technology cannot immediately solve. Taking a strategic and long-term approach to nurturing a talent pool means implementing higher wages, better benefits, building in the potential for greater work-life balance in the industry. But at the same time, an investment in technology can help your organization to create a more supportive environment for your staff to make them feel valued while you consider those greater issues as to how technology can also help you preserve margins and maximize profit potential.
In addition to the other elements we’ve talked about, technology can address things like matching performance with rewards with those things available in the data, centralized in the cloud. But it’s important to understand that success is a moving target. A continuing set of conversations on how to innovate as technology and consumer culture evolve together is going to be essential to keeping up the momentum.
Choosing the right partners
One crucial factor in that is to choose the right partners, whether that means engaging with new ones, or assessing the state of current ones. How does one do that best? We’ve authored a resource to help you address that question.
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