Finding employees willing to take on the demanding hard work of a kitchen and retaining those employees has always been a struggle, and it’s time restaurants begin looking at solutions to the problem for the next generation of chefs. This generation, Gen Z, has grown up relentlessly surrounded by technology — whether it's at-school laptops, online gaming, or digital communication, it's here to stay.
In order to grow productivity and retain workers long-term, it’s essential to tie technology into the kitchen. Here are a few ways I learned from personal experience as an executive chef that using technology can help retain workers, make each employee feel comfortable in their role, and foster long-lasting relationships.
1. Polish the Onboarding Process
Onboarding is critical to keeping and maintaining good employees, but luckily, technology can help perfect this challenging process. Through tech, business owners and managers can begin with clear expectations up front, whether that’s providing an online checklist, instructions or video onboarding. This familiar excitement towards tech can reinforce a sense of purpose within Gen Z workers.
2. Provide Employees with Tools to Communicate More Effectively
In any workplace, communication is the pillar of success. There’s a constant back and forth in kitchen settings, and this can sometimes lead to confusing or opposing information. One way to combat this is to streamline through team chats and bridge communication gaps that may occur. Team chats make it easy to share, announce, mention and never miss a beat when it comes to your team’s communication. Not only does this streamline any and all communication, communicating online is more efficient, effective and faster.
3. Consolidate Your Tech Stack
Although technology can function as a positive tool, when many systems are used for different processes, it can become overwhelming. In the kitchen, there’s a POS, scheduling devices, recipe books, inventory tools and more. Workflow apps make it easy to consolidate systems and provide workers the ability to be autonomous in their positions. Tech is meant to smooth out operations, not make them more complicated, and Gen Z are the first to become frustrated when these tools aren’t being used efficiently.
4. Open the Door for Feedback
Gen Z is the generation that has taken back some of their voice and autonomy in the workplace. In order to let employees truly thrive and grow, feedback and accountability must also be present. Feedback and accountability go hand in hand, and without accountability from all members of the team feedback gets lost and employees feel like their voices are lost in the commotion of the kitchen. Without giving the opportunity for members of the team to voice opinions and know they are being heard, growth within the workplace is almost impossible to maintain.
To help with accountability, technology and a centralized communication channel can create a metaphorical “paper trail” and allow each employee to look back in time and see what was really said, creating a singular source of truth and not muddying the waters of communication. This is used to guard checks and balances on all sides so no source of power is without accountability.
5. Build a Holistic Culture
Larger companies like Chipotle and Google have a distinct culture because they have positive systems in place that help cultivate success. Strong systems are the central building block to a constructive workplace culture. Culture is a cumulative act that must be practiced throughout the whole operation. Building and executing real intention into workplace culture is key in making everyone feel welcome and supported. When employees are included in the communication, task management and everyday success of the business as a whole, they feel a sense of ownership and belonging that makes them want to continue to grow with their current employer. This is one of the hardest things to accomplish, but technology is here to help.