How Technology Will Shape the Future of Restaurant Management

While terms like big data, beacon technology, and predictive analytics seem like buzzwords today; the integration of rapidly advancing technology in restaurants will change the way we think about and manage restaurant workforces well into the future. Technology is already being effectively used in restaurants to assess and hire employees, forecast sales, manage schedules, and increase productivity. Yet those existing technologies will soon merge with new advancements and systems, and a new generation of food service workers will drive the modernization of restaurant management.

Modern restaurant companies will transform the way they manage their workforces.

Restaurateurs have rich, yet disparate, data sets about prospective, current and former workers, that covers information related to hiring, staffing, training, performance, engagement, turnover, and more. In the future, restaurateurs will gather additional data such as cashier transaction patterns, tagged close circuit digital video recordings, social media, feedback from geo-positioning sensors, worker-specific customer feedback, and more frequent feedback from workers themselves.

Even with all this information, it is no surprise that many restaurants fall short in turning data into knowledge and knowledge into action. With backlogged IT departments, data silos, and restaurant human resource technology advancing daily, the task to take action seems almost impossible. To close the gap, firms like TDn2K collect, synthesize, and report on restaurant employees, sales and social media insights to provide industry leaders with meaningful information on their restaurants and how they benchmark to others. And they are not alone in wanting to change the way companies view and take action on human resources.

Here are just a few of the emerging activities businesses are pursuing in this space:

  • Restaurant managers and employees alike are using mobile tools such as HotSchedules as the go-to system for employee schedules, shift changes and communicating with hourly workers. These software companies are continuously expanding their platforms to be a single-point for unit-level managers and workers alike.
  • Human resources at Google has been renamed people operations and includes a people analytics team responsible for delivering the same analytical rigor to people-decisions as to engineering decisions. Google uses data analysis to predict employees most likely to become a retention risk, calculate the value of top performers, and improve forecasts of upcoming workforce problems and opportunities.
  • The CEO of Globoforce, Eric Mosley, is reimagining the traditional performance review systems into a dynamic, collaborative system that embrace the wisdom of crowd-gathering feedback from everyone in a company, which he describes in his book The Crowd Sourced Performance Review.

If we recognize technology is evolving, businesses are adapting, and the millennial workforce is coming in with a built-in digital savvy, then we have to recognize that the human resources and management practices of the 20th century are due for a revolution. Gone are the days of bureaucratic personnel departments and waning are the days of soft skill-centric human resource departments. Meanwhile, dawning are the days of inclusive and collaborative efforts to leverage data and technology in people-decision-making and operation-performance-driving efforts.

Modern restaurant companies will transform the way they manage their workforces and here are a few ways how:

  • Companies will build and expand their business analytics and data science capacity to include the right workers with the knowledge, skills, infrastructure and technology to pool data, synthesize and analyze available information, find insights, change behavior and produce better results in all facets of their businesses.
  • New technology will embrace the explosive growth of mobile technology. Appreciating that mobile devices have become practically an extension of our employees’ bodies, companies will seek out new ways to attract, recruit, retain, schedule, train, communicate with and engage with workers through their digital devices. Mobile-enablement will become a leading criterion in new software selection decisions and implementations.
  • Unit-level managers will adapt to an ever increasing pace of work and successive additions of alerts and alarms meant to trigger behavior. Increased human productivity is equal to higher levels of output with the same or fewer levels of employee hours. Plainly, companies will be asking managers to do more with less.  And, to help them, an ever growing series of new software systems will layer new alerts and alarms triggering them to action on opportunities within their restaurants. Much like the health care industry, leading companies will find ways to prioritize and manage this evolution to avoid fatigue.

The business of restaurants is to provide customers with quality meals and experiences. Restaurant customers and workers are people; not data points and software systems. In the business of hospitality, workers will give customers the experience their employers give them. Executive teams who fail to appreciate that principal, will likely accelerate their problems not turn opportunities into success. 

Technology is not a cure-all to the challenges and headwinds that face the restaurant workforce and industry. However, with the right tools and mindset in place, the sailing will be a bit smoother.