Keeping Employees and Customers Safe Requires a Different Training Approach

I’ve had the opportunity to support restaurant operators that have stayed open throughout the COVID shutdown.   Everyone agrees that with COVID-19, the public has a heightened safety awareness. The public is watching operators very closely to see if they are doing all the things to make safety your #1 priority. The consistent execution of every safe service process and procedure will be imperative to survive and thrive in the years to come. 

Safety is Priority #1

Remember the pre-COVID world? As a diner we are spoiled for choice.  With so many passionate and talented chefs, the creativity and execution of diverse menus is amazing.  The same goes for the standard of service.  So, with so many restaurants offering great food and service, what was the differentiator? In a word- hospitality.  All else being equal, it’s how you make people feel that gets them coming back time and time again.

During COVID and post COVID shutdown, there’s a whole new dynamic- safety.  The concept of ‘Safe Hospitality’ or ‘Safe Service’ is the new differentiator.  After two-plus months of COVID, the public is hyper aware of safe and risky behaviors. So, the public is listening and watching very closely for clues that you are doing all the things to keep employees, the food, and customers safe.  

What Exactly Is ‘Safe Hospitality?'

So now the big question everyone is trying to answer is this- What exactly is ‘Safe Hospitality’ and how is that going to affect the whole dining experience? More importantly, how do you create a safe working environment for employees? For example, will menus need to be re-designed to accommodate for safe distancing stations in the kitchen? What does safe hospitality look and feel like?

The challenge is, many of the elements of safe hospitality or service do not come naturally for anyone, but especially for hospitalians.  

Consistently delivering safe dining experiences requires a total re-think of processes and service standards, then the skills and behaviours required of both managers and team members.  

Here’s a few steps operators are currently working through, that you may want to consider.

1. First off you need to examine the whole experience through the most critical customer perspective. Everywhere a potential customer is in contact with your brand- social media, the website, a phone call, the entrance.   Every aspect of the experience must be examined and adjusted to ensure employee and customer safety. ‘Sanitation theater’ is only part of the equation.  

2. The second step is developing clear and workable processes and procedures accordingly.

3. Step 3 will be the ongoing training and coaching support to help everyone learn new processes and develop the safe behaviors.

Why Is a Different Training Approach Required?

Learning new skills and developing new behaviors is HARD! Most training is delivered as a one-time event, with little or no continuing reinforcement.  For example, taking a training course once and then getting certified for one year.  Unfortunately, that is not how behaviors are changed, and will not deliver the required results.  

With time and money in short supply, microlearning or digital training can help to support this different approach.

With microlearning, training can be delivered in bite-sized chunks and reinforced frequently over an extended period of time. 

Restaurant Playbooks developed free COVID-19 safe service training resources to help operators implement microlearning and support a training process. Operators can download the videos, microlearning, and customizable templates to deliver consistent training and reinforcement.  If an operator has a Learning Management System, the microlearning can be deployed with the benefit of tracking participation and completion. If not, the videos can be deployed on YouTube, Vimeo or any video service or any website. Employees can also access the videos and microlearning directly on our webpage.

To learn more, click here.