The state of HR for restaurants in 2024 | elementsuite
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The state of HR for restaurants in 2024

The year 2024 marks a significant turning point for the UK restaurant industry. Despite the UK recession pinching consumer pockets, the restaurant industry is predicted to grow, adding approximately 200,000 new jobs by the end of 2024.

However, these jobs may not be the same as those we know today. Especially as automated restaurants, delivery-only concepts, and virtual kitchens are all disrupting the traditional restaurant model.

But what does all of this mean for HR in the restaurant industry? How can we navigate these changes and continue cultivating a positive work culture while remaining competitive?

The restaurant sector is renowned for its high-energy ethos and equally high employee turnover rates, which hovered at 35.63% in 2023. As we look towards 2024, this trend is expected to continue as the industry adapts to new ways of working and serving customers.

This means being proactive in understanding emerging trends and implementing organisational stability strategies that will not only address current challenges but also prepare for future ones.

6 restaurant HR best practices and tips

To thrive in the dynamic and often unpredictable restaurant industry in 2024, HR leaders must adopt innovative and strategic employee management approaches.

These best practices are designed to not only tackle the immediate challenges brought about by technological advancements and shifting consumer expectations but also to create a resilient and adaptable workforcecapable of navigating future changes.

1. Purposeful hiring and onboarding

Just as the process of crafting a bespoke menu is thoughtful and deliberate, so should the process of hiring and onboarding new employees.

The restaurant industry is already experiencing a retention crisis – one that is expected to intensify in the coming years. To mitigate this high turnover rate, HR professionals need to focus on purposeful hiring, ensuring that new employees align with the company’s values and culture.

Research suggests that when employees feel a sense of belonging and identify with the company culture, they are five times more likely to remain with the company for a longer duration. And with the recruitment costs of replacing an employee, on average, being 1.5 to 2x an employee’s salary, investing time and effort into finding the right employees is crucial for both employee retention and business profitability.

So think to yourself: what are your company values? What attributes do you look for in your employees, and how can you assess these during the hiring process?

But it doesn’t stop there. The onboarding experience is equally as important as hiring. Use this period to set clear expectations, introduce new hires to the company’s culture and values, and provide comprehensive training opportunities from the get-go.

Your onboarding process shouldn’t just be a checklist to complete – it should be an immersive experience that supports a smooth transition for new hires, fostering a sense of belonging and commitment to the company from day one.

So, HR professionals, it’s time to rethink your approach to hiring and onboarding. Don’t just focus on filling seats – invest in finding the right people who will grow with your company.

2. Frequent and transparent communication

How often do you communicate with your employees?

By this, we don’t mean just sharing the daily specials or shift schedules but actively engaging in open and transparent communication.

Do they know when the benefits enrollment period is? Are employees aware of upcoming changes to company policies or procedures?

Communication is critical in any industry, but it’s even more crucial in the fast-paced and demanding world of restaurants. Let us tell you why. Research suggests that poor communication can result in:

  • Wasted time
  • Missed messages
  • Burnout, stress, and fatigue
  • Bad customer experience
  • Lost customers to competitors
  • Lost employees

When management engages in open dialogue about the business’s goals, challenges, and successes, it creates an atmosphere of mutual respect, trust and transparency. They empower employees to take accountability for being part of a collective team striving towards a common goal.

An internal communications platform is an excellent way to keep everyone in the loop. This includes frequent communication about essential company updates, shift schedules and requests, employee recognition and rewards, new training and development opportunities, and fun team-building activities.

3. Growth opportunities

A menu that doesn’t change and evolve will eventually lose customers. The same can be said for a workforce.

Lack of growth opportunities is one of the top reasons that frontline workers leave their jobs. They often see the restaurant industry as a stepping stone rather than a long-term career option. But that can change with a strategic approach to employee development.

What training and development opportunities are available to your employees? Are there opportunities for shadowing and department rotations within the company? Can you implement a mentorship program to help employees grow and learn from more experienced team members?

 These are just some ideas to consider, but the key takeaway is to invest in your employees’ growth.

As technology advances and customer preferences change, the skills required in the restaurant industry will also evolve. Therefore, it is imperative that you conduct regular coaching and performance reviews to identify areas of improvement and create tailored development plans.

By investing in a culture of respect and growth, you not only retain top talent but also equip them with the skills and knowledge to meet future challenges head-on.

4. Competitive salaries and benefits packages

The restaurant industry is notorious for its low wages and lack of employee benefits. However, with the increasing competition in the market and growing employee awareness of their worth, providing competitive compensation has become a non-negotiable factor for attracting and retaining top talent.

While it may be challenging to offer salaries that match corporate jobs, consider salary benchmarking against industry standards and offering additional benefits such as employee discounts, flexible schedules, and company advancement opportunities.

You can even go the extra step and get creative with employee benefits packages, such as performance-based pay, bonus programs, paid time off, or competitive health insurance.

Investing in your employees’ financial well-being shows that you value their contributions. It also helps reduce financial stress and increase job satisfaction. In short, it is a powerful tool for attracting and retaining talent in the competitive restaurant industry.

5. Employee well-being

Did you know that there is a direct correlation between employee well-being and customer satisfaction?

However, employee well-being is a multifaceted concept that goes beyond just physical health. It also includes mental, financial, and social well-being. In an industry where hours tend to be long, breaks seem short, and stress levels can be high, the prioritisation of employee well-being cannot be understated.

This could mean providing mental health support such as therapy or counselling services, promoting work-life balance through flexible scheduling, and creating a positive work environment where employees feel supported and valued.

It doesn’t mean you must spend a lot, as we appreciate that most restaurants operate on a tight budget. However, simple gestures like showing appreciation, recognising hard work, and ensuring that schedules are created with employee preferences and work-life balance in mind can go a long way.

It may even be worth appointing a well-being champion or creating a dedicated well-being committee to implement and oversee initiatives that promote employee well-being.

Ultimately, by investing in your employees’ overall well-being, you improve their quality of life and create a happier and more engaged workforce, ultimately leading to a better customer experience.

6. Diversity and inclusion

When we talk about employee well-being, we also mean creating an inclusive and diverse workplace where employees feel respected and included regardless of their background, ethnicity, gender, or sexual orientation.

Diversity and inclusion should be embedded in every aspect of the restaurant industry, from hiring practices to company culture. It is the spice that adds depth to your menu and the secret ingredient that makes your team strong and united.

Diverse teams perform better. They bring different perspectives, ideas, and skills that can drive innovation and success. However, simply ticking the diversity box is not enough.

True diversity and inclusion require a commitment to creating an inclusive work environment where all employees feel heard, valued, and empowered. In 2024, HR’s commitment to diversity should be more than just lip service – it should be a core ingredient in every decision.

Consider implementing inclusive hiring practices, establishing diversity training programmes, creating employee resource groups, and fostering open communication and dialogue within the team.

By doing so, you not only attract a diverse pool of talent but also create an environment that celebrates diversity and promotes unity within your team. Ultimately, this can improve your restaurant’s employee satisfaction, retention, and customer satisfaction.

elementsuite’s HR software is built with hourly workers in mind

elementsuite’s HR software, designed with the unique needs of hourly workers in mind, emerges as a valuable partner for restaurants navigating the complexities of 2024. Offering a comprehensive suite of hiring, onboarding, scheduling, time tracking, and payroll tools, elementsuite simplifies HR tasks while ensuring compliance and enhancing employee engagement.

With built-in features such as real-time insights, its own homegrown generative AI assistant, ELLA, enhanced analytics and reporting capabilities, and seamless integration with popular restaurant POS systems, elementsuite empowers restaurants to streamline their HR processes and focus on what truly matters—creating exceptional experiences for their customers.

The state of HR in the restaurant industry is rapidly evolving, and it’s time for restaurants to adapt. By prioritising employee well-being, embracing diversity and inclusion, and investing in tools like elementsuite’s all-in-one HR software, you can set yourself up for success in 2024 and beyond.

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