Restaurants Go Digital to Attract and Retain Talent

Frequent turnover of staff has long been an issue in the fast-paced restaurant industry. Now, with the added pressure of the pandemic and the ensuing labor shortages, the challenge has become front and center. To recruit new talent and alleviate strains on current staff, restaurant managers are looking for new ways to streamline their operations and enhance the employee experience. 

Embracing Digital Transformation 

Many restaurants have approached digital transformation with a bit of hesitancy in the past, concerned that digitizing processes could add layers of complexity and pose challenges across a multi-generational and multi-cultural workforce. However, many have since discovered that digitizing their workforce operations empowers employees. A mobile employee experience has now become table stakes in seamlessly recruiting, onboarding, training and managing staff.

This expectation has only grown stronger in a world now shaped by the pandemic and its impact on how we communicate and share information with others. People have grown more accustomed to quickly engaging across virtual divides through the use of technology. As that comfort increases, the expectation for a mobile employee experience grows in tandem.            

The digital transition offers mutual benefit as well. As restaurants navigate staff shortages, they have access to fewer bookkeepers and payroll professionals to manage back-office functions. Digitizing those operations helps reduce those pressures while simultaneously enabling employees to get to work more quickly, and more easily access work-related information, such as their wages, pay stubs or W-2 forms. This dynamic equates to time saved and convenience added for both parties.

Meeting New Expectations 

With technology driving expectations for speed, efficiency and flexibility, employees are demanding more from their employers. Being able to meet those demands is critical in attracting and retaining talent. 

Beyond offers like cash interview incentives and sign-on bonuses, workers want to know that they’ll be taken care of well beyond their first day. From access to healthcare benefits to childcare, tuition savings, or perks like discounts at notable retailers, employees are more actively seeking a holistic rewards package. To meet these expectations, many restaurants are leveraging digital HCM marketplaces to customize offerings for their unique workforce and increase the speed and efficiency with which they can extend such benefits.  

While pay continues to be a key consideration for talent, many employers are evolving the way they pay their workforce to provide a better employee experience. Some restaurants are offering financial wellness benefits, such as employee savings programs, earned wage access, and flexible payment structures. Many are additionally implementing tip-to-card solutions to automate tip payments amid cash shortages and to increase the speed with which employees can access funds. Such offerings can help make restaurants more competitive in the market.  

Once an employee has been hired, the focus turns to onboarding. Automating the onboarding experience is a huge need for restaurants, particularly given the industry’s traditionally high turnover rate and the toll on resources each time managers need to focus their attention on administrative onboarding tasks. New employees want to get right to work, and management wants them in the restaurant and onboarded as quickly as possible. By automating the onboarding process, restaurants can gain another edge over the competition. The alternative is to risk losing that worker to another job opening that doesn't require as much red tape just to start work.

Focusing on Talent Development

While talent development is often a priority, it tends to fall on the list when managers have to devote their time and attention to more pressing, administrative tasks to keep operations running smoothly. The more functions that can be taken off managers’ plates, the more they can keep their focus where it belongs: on the employees.

When managers spend time on administrative tasks rather than on employee engagement, there can be a huge loss of revenue opportunity. And it’s a compounding effect: Managers who are given time can better focus on and train employees, and as those employees’ skills grow, they will be more engaged and better positioned for success. Higher engagement can in turn help reduce turnover. But the opposite is also true: When managers are bogged down with too many tasks, development becomes less of a focus and employees are less likely to remain engaged.

Restaurant managers are often employees who were promoted into the role through experience and skills development on the job. Though despite their tenure with the establishment, they might not have had access to learning and development opportunities to hone the skills they need to engage employees and foster their development. 

Ultimately, by digitizing their workforce operations, restaurants can better meet the modern demands of today’s talent and foster a workplace culture where employees feel empowered, engaged and incentivized to stay.