It seems superfluous to say that hospitality is a volatile industry. We all know this – after all, it’s one of the highest employers of teenagers, students and seasonal workers of any industry, and this contributes to its above average staff turnover rate (which hit an incredible 72.9% in 2016).
But what causes this high turnover? While many owner-operators consider the high number of young workers the culprit, a 2015 survey by TINYpulse revealed that micromanagement (28%), poor culture (15%), and little professional development (10%) are the biggest causes of employee turnover. When you look at those issues on a basic level, they point to two problem areas – a lack of trust from management in the ability of workers and a lack of motivation.
The solution is obvious, but it’s one of those things that restaurants have always struggled to deliver consistently – and that’s adequate staff training. Filling employee skill gaps would prevent managers from becoming over-involved, and demonstrating a commitment to staff development would help employees feel more valued and supported (and empower them to perform their jobs at a higher level).
So how can restaurants with the lack of time and resource implement a proper staff training program? Online training, which has only recently emerged as an option, could be an innovative solution for many businesses.
Let’s take a look at the reasons you should consider it.
- It’s more accessible
Unlike in-person training, which has to be scheduled at a specific time and date, online training can be conducted at any time. On most platforms (for example Skillshare and Lynda for business training, or Typsy for more specific hospitality training), individuals are given their own login, and the ability to browse a library of video content at their leisure. This is particularly useful for busy restaurant employees who need a more flexible mode of training – because videos can be watched whenever needed, including during a shift, on public transport on the way to work, or even at home after a shift.
- It addresses soft and hard skills
It should be acknowledged that in-person training is crucial in hospitality, where practical skills are everything. But it can be difficult to keep up in-person ongoing training, especially on soft skills like organization, oral communication and customer handling. Productivity issues often arise because staff members feel unequipped for the job they have been hired to do, and young workers in particular can have a hard time speaking up about these difficulties. Online training is ideal for communicating set standards, and for empowering workers to discreetly brush up on skills they feel doubtful about. Managers can also immediately address problem areas. For example, if customers have complained about a server’s table side manner, they can send them straight to a course on server etiquette to help them adjust their approach.
- The cost is much lower than traditional training
Cost is one of the main reasons restaurants don’t train their employees on an ongoing basis. It can be expensive to bring in outside experts as more than a once-off exercise, and it can impact productivity if direct supervisors are enlisted to continually train other staff. Even printing a training manual for a restaurant with multiple venues can be a nightmare.
Thanks to Netflix, which has popularized both the subscription payment model, and the idea that people should be able to access a whole library of content for very little per month, online training platforms are forced to offer a similar payment structure. And that means fewer training overheads for your restaurant.
- It enriches your team’s connection to the industry
Hospitality has a bad reputation among young people, rightly or wrongly, as an industry where they can’t develop a serious career, but you can change that perception. By giving them access to tools where they can explore subjects of interest to them and expand their horizons, not only are you giving them confidence in their current role, you are also exposing them to the scope of what is possible in the hospitality industry. Show them the career paths that are available to them and the diversity of skills they can master, from service and kitchen skills to marketing and business acumen, and this could encourage them to stay for much longer with your restaurant – and, perhaps, even, in the industry itself.
- It’s trackable
Unlike in-person training, where restaurants rely on anecdotal evidence to determine if the training has been successful, online training is immediately trackable. Most online training platforms have inbuilt analytics that allow managers to check in and see how workers are progressing, on items such as how many hours of training they have completed, what courses they are repeatedly viewing (suggesting problem areas), and what videos they are skipping (suggesting disengagement with a particular subject). You can then use this data to address problem areas and identify overachieving and underperforming employees.
For example, if you have an employee who is watching dozens of videos on restaurant management every month, you could look for opportunities to give them more responsibilities. Alternatively, if you have an employee who is showing little engagement in courses you have assigned, after you have received complaints about them, you can more easily gauge their level of enthusiasm and decide if it might be time to cut them lose – saving you in the long run from their lack of productivity.
Weighing the benefits of online training
Investing in training has measurable benefits for restaurants. A recent CHART survey found that hospitality businesses spending 5% or more of their budget on training experienced 23% less turnover.
And when you consider the latent costs associated with recruitment, orientation, and lost productivity, it’s staggering when you think about how much restaurants could be saving (at least $2,004 per hourly employee) if they implemented a staff training program.
Online training could be a practical alternative for restaurants unable to afford in-person training, or unwilling to spare the resources. The long-term benefits really speak for themselves.
Emily Tatti is the Content Marketing Manager at Typsy, which is an online skills hub for the hospitality industry. Typsy helps restaurants train their staff by giving them access to bite-size courses from the world’s best instructors. Learn more by visiting www.typsy.com