Food For Thought: Restaurant technology - Employee attraction and retention….it’s not all about the customer experience

Our Sales and Partnership Manager, Paul Berryman brings us another 'Food for Thought' blog. This month he looks at the topical issue of staff retention within the current Brexit climate and how embracing restaurant tech can be the key to staff attraction, engagement and increased productivity.

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We talk a lot about the important role of technology to drive revenue and excel the customer experience. But what is its impact on employees? From staff productivity to recruitment and retention, your restaurant technology could be the answer.

11% Workforce exit post Brexit

With a month until our scheduled Brexit deadline, fears of problematic staffing are being expressed and may well become a reality very soon for some operators. According to a YouGov survey in 2018, around one in 10 (11%) people working in UK restaurants, catering, bars and hotels are thinking about leaving the UK as a result of Brexit. Leaving a potential gaping gap in the employment market, there is a need to make our work culture more attractive than the competition.

Can investment in technology help us to attract and clinch the right employees and keep them satisfied for long-term retention? Not to mention, make staff more productive so more can be done with less.

Let’s face it, nobody wants a job fraught with stress caused simply by poor communication, order errors, unhappy customers, erratic rotas and an inability to serve customers in a timely manner. But many operators are guilty of just this unnecessary staff stress.

The new digital employee

Just as Gen Z and Millennials are a vital customer sector, this same demographic make up a large percentage of the hospitality workforce. And this digital native group want to use technology to make their life and job easier.

Unlike their older peers, they become quickly frustrated with work tasks that are not made simple, fast and with automated communication. They are from a world of cloud-driven instantaneous communications and have little or no patience with anything that does not offer the same real-time and rapid delivery of information.

Given the right tools, not only will staff be more comfortable with the work process, but they will be naturally more productive in all aspects of the job to better serve the customer and streamline the operation for cost and efficiency savings.

Six key tech features to boost staff satisfaction

1. Inventory Management: Restaurant employees have a range of jobs to juggle and a good EPoS system will take the pressure off monitoring stock and menu availability on a daily basis. Both front-of-house and back-of-house employees won’t need to get stressed out about what products are running low and explaining to customers that items aren’t available – it will become an efficient automated process. 

2. Kitchen Management: There can be friction between front and back-of-house staff when restaurants get busy. Kitchen management software helps the two functions communicate without causing confusion. Kitchen automation systems include functions like order status, to keep everyone informed about how long food will take. The days of front-of-house staff shouting at and interrupting chefs can be a thing of the past with kitchen automation software – not to mention less customer friction between waiting staff concerning order wait times.

Secondly, kitchen management software help chefs to see what needs to be cooked and when the dishes are required. This level of information reduces customer wait time and enables a more streamlined kitchen operation enabling more diners to be served.
3. Digital menu and tableside ordering: Not only are digital order pads loved by the younger tech savvy employee, but they speed up order times. A simple handheld tablet will allow waiting staff to immediately send orders to the kitchen, decreasing ticket times and increasing table turn, which in turn, increases your weekly revenue. 

4. CRM: Having an integrated CRM platform within your EPoS, will help new front-of-house employees feel less pressurised whilst learning about customer preferences. Using an advanced CRM such as Como, means that your new employees will be familiar with your regular customers’ preferences at the touch of a button. As a result, employees feel less pressured about remembering important details, like food allergies, and guests will also feel more valued.

5. Workforce Management: Investing in technology for your restaurant will help to improve your employees’ morale. For instance, using workforce management software allows you to make better decisions about staffing your restaurant. You’ll be able to assign the right people with the right skills to the appropriate shifts.

Research by the Aberdeen Group found that automating scheduling saw “5% greater workforce capacity utilisation and 24% higher engagement levels due to scheduling transparency.” Automated staff scheduling gives staff the convenience of receiving their schedules in advance so that they can better plan their lives outside of work.

6. Payroll: As every owner and general manager knows, managing numerous part-time and full-time employees, not to mention assign shift work, configure staff time-off and pay employees on time is no easy task.

Investing in a single EPoS platform is vital for businesses to maintain efficiencies through technology while keeping up with salaries, employee benefits and changing regulations. Restaurants and bars should look for solutions that have built-in payroll data analytics to help make faster and better decisions.

And don’t forget, not being paid on time, or incorrectly, is one of the most commonly heard complaints from staff. Getting it right every time increases both staff loyalty and the business’ reputation.

On-going support & on-demand training

But even when we have all the tech in place, many operators still hit a problem: “the rotating door of hospitality staff turn-over”. This inevitably results in a high risk of staff not knowing how to use the systems effectively, if at all, and a reliance on “Chinese whispers” between staff on how to use them.  On-going regular training is essential if investment in restaurant technology is to be beneficial.

Training can take many forms from:

  • Vendor provided on-site training
  • Induction online courses
  • Webinars and videos

Keeping your tech up-to-date and in working order

And it’s not just about training to ensure staff can use systems efficiently. One of the biggest areas of staff frustration is when the software and systems don’t work properly, are unreliable or faulty.  Ensuring all your tech has round the clock UK support, with ideally on-site emergency engineers is a necessity to keep your tech working how it should to avoid disgruntled employees and time loss.

Technology as part of your culture

Without a doubt, getting the right technology and EPoS platform needs to become not only central to the operation but also part of the culture from back-of-house and front-of-house through to head office management. This is the only way to produce employee satisfaction, recruitment and retention.

With so much new technology springing up, advances in AI and digital transformation occurring across operations, now is the time to consider not only the business savings and customer experience benefits of technology investment, but crucially the positive role it plays in employee attraction and satisfaction.

If you're thinking of reviewing and/or updating your EPoS tech then why not take a look at our eGuide: “Restaurateur’s Guide to the Right Solution 2019 & Beyond”