How to onboard employees in the restaurant and hospitality industries

The restaurant and hospitality sectors are notorious for high employee turnover, often seen as an unavoidable part of the industry. But here's the thing: it doesn't have to be. Investing in your team from day one can transform the employee experience, breaking the cycle of high turnover. 

This is your guide to onboarding employees in these dynamic industries, offering strategies that go beyond the norm and create a workforce that's not just skilled, but also engaged and committed. We’ll show you how onboarding is different in the restaurant and hospitality industries; and tell you the 15 tips for onboarding employees in these industries. 

Why effective onboarding matters

Let's face it, the first days at a new job can be daunting, especially in fast-paced environments like restaurants and hotels. Effective onboarding is the key to easing this transition. 

It's not just about teaching the ropes; it's about building a connection with the new hire, showing them they're valued and an integral part of the team. This sets the tone for their entire tenure, influencing their job satisfaction, loyalty, and productivity.

How onboarding is different in the restaurant and hospitality industries

Onboarding in the restaurant and hospitality sectors is not just a step in the process; it's a game-changer. Think about it: employees in these buzzing worlds are more than just staff – they're the architects of memorable experiences. It's not just about knowing the ropes of their job; it's about mastering the art of making someone's day, every day. That's what customer service is all about in these industries, and it's the heartbeat of business success.

But there's more to the story. Safety and compliance aren't just checkboxes; they're lifelines. In the kitchen and beyond, knowing the ins and outs of health regulations and safety procedures is non-negotiable. It's about keeping everyone, from team members to guests, safe and sound.

And let's talk about flexibility. In the ever-shifting landscape of hospitality, being able to pivot and handle surprises with grace is not just a skill – it's a superpower. Onboarding here isn't your typical training; it's an adventure, preparing employees to thrive in the face of the unpredictable.

Lastly, in this kaleidoscope of roles – from the heartbeat of the kitchen to the smile at the front desk – one-size-fits-all just doesn't cut it. Tailored onboarding ensures that whether someone's juggling dishes or customer queries, they're not just doing a job; they're playing their part in a well-orchestrated symphony of service excellence.

In essence, rethinking onboarding in these vibrant industries is not just fixing a process; it's about crafting a journey that celebrates every role, champions safety, and elevates customer service to an art form. It's about turning everyday work into extraordinary experiences. Welcome to the new era of hospitality onboarding!

15 tips for employee onboarding in the restaurant and hospitality industry (+ 1 bonus tip)

1. Begin Before Day One with Preboarding

Get the ball rolling early! Send a friendly email or text a few days before they start, maybe include a short video introducing the team. It's like a sneak peek of the fun and camaraderie they're about to join.

To expand on this, why not also include a short, engaging video tour of your workspace? This can help new hires visualize their new environment and ease first-day nerves. Think about including introductions from future colleagues or a sneak peek into a day in the life at your establishment.

Another great preboarding activity could be setting up their email and work accounts beforehand. This way, they can start feeling connected right away. You could even encourage them to join in on any pre-existing group chats or social media groups where team members share updates or fun posts.

Finally, a pre-boarding checklist emailed to them can be really helpful. This checklist can cover things like dress code, parking information, what to bring on their first day, and whom to report to upon arrival. Making sure they're fully informed and prepared will help reduce first-day jitters, making the transition smoother and more enjoyable.

2. Create a Structured Plan or Onboarding Checklist

Think of it as a treasure map, guiding them through their first few weeks. Lay out everything from where to find the coffee machine to meeting their team. It’s like giving them a GPS for their new job journey.

Your checklist can include small milestones for the first 30, 60, and 90 days. This helps new hires understand their progress and gives them clear goals to work towards in their early days.

Incorporating interactive elements like quizzes or scavenger hunts related to their training can make the onboarding experience more engaging. These activities not only reinforce learning but also add an element of fun, helping to build camaraderie with other team members.

Remember, the key is to strike a balance between providing structure and allowing flexibility in the onboarding process to accommodate individual learning paces and styles. A well-thought-out plan with clear milestones and interactive elements can significantly enhance a new employee’s onboarding experience in the hospitality industry.

3. Offer a Warm Welcome and Show Some Enthusiasm

Imagine walking into a room where everyone’s happy to see you - that's the vibe you want. A big smile, maybe a welcome sign, or a small celebration can set a great tone.

Beyond just the first day, plan a welcome lunch or team outing within the first week. This informal setting can help new employees bond with the team and feel more relaxed and integrated.

4. Use a Mentor or Buddy System

It’s like having a work bestie from day one. This person can show them the ropes, answer those “silly” questions, and be their lunch buddy. It’s about making them feel like part of the family, fast.

Ensure the mentor or buddy is someone approachable and well-versed in the company's ethos. Regular check-ins between the new hire and their buddy can be scheduled to address any concerns or questions.

5. Focus on Company Culture

Share stories about what makes your place special. Maybe it’s the way everyone sings when they’re setting up for the day, or the legendary staff parties. Help them see they’re not just joining a team, they’re joining a story.

Include examples of how employees have embodied company values in their work. Share stories of exceptional customer service or teamwork which highlight the culture in action.

6. Tailor Onboarding for Each New Hire

Think personalization, not one-size-fits-all. A bartender might need to know the secret recipes, while a receptionist might appreciate a tour of the best photo spots. Make their first experiences relevant and exciting.

For instance, a chef might appreciate a tour of the kitchen and an introduction to local suppliers, while a front desk employee might benefit more from a walkthrough of the booking system.

7. Create Easy Communication Channels

Set them up on your team chat app or introduce them to the daily huddle. It’s like opening the lines of communication so they can shout out when they need help or share a win.

Introduce them to communication protocols like who to contact for different issues. This could involve setting them up on the company’s internal social network or communication tools like Slack or Teams.

8. Put Together an Onboarding Welcome Kit

A goodie bag with essentials, maybe a branded t-shirt, a guidebook, and some fun stuff like local snacks or a quirky mug. It’s like saying, “We’re thrilled you’re here, and we’ve got you covered!”

Include practical items like a map of the facility, a schedule of a typical workday, and even personalized notes from their new colleagues.

9. Get the Rest of the Team Involved

Have different team members show them around or teach them bits of their role. It’s like building a network of friends and helpers from the get-go.

Have different team members share their own experiences and tips for success. This can be done through informal coffee chats or short, scheduled meet-and-greets.

10. Provide Comprehensive Training

Don’t just throw them in the deep end. Whether it’s shadowing someone, attending a workshop, or e-learning modules, make sure they get the full picture of how to do their job brilliantly.

Incorporate a mix of shadowing, hands-on practice, and classroom-style learning. This varied approach caters to different learning styles and ensures a well-rounded training experience.

11. Set Clear Expectations

Be clear about what success looks like. It’s like giving them a roadmap to being awesome at their job. Regular check-ins to discuss their progress can keep them on track.

Outline key performance indicators (KPIs) and how their role contributes to the overall success of the establishment. Regular performance reviews can help track these expectations.

12. Provide Easy-to-Access Handbooks and Onboarding Material

Imagine a cheat sheet for everything they need to know. Keep it simple and accessible, maybe even digital, so they can always find what they need without rummaging through papers.

Consider creating an online resource center where new hires can access these materials anytime. This could be a part of your company’s intranet or a dedicated onboarding app.

13. Solicit Feedback

Ask them how it’s going and really listen. It’s like tweaking the recipe based on the taste tester’s feedback - it only makes the dish better.

Create a safe space for new hires to express their thoughts. This could be through anonymous surveys or one-on-one meetings with their manager or HR representative.

14. Don’t Overwhelm Them on Day One

Ease them into it. Maybe start with a tour, a casual meet-and-greet, and some light tasks. Think of it as warming up before the big game.

Plan a mix of activities that are informative yet not too taxing. Include breaks where they can process information and not feel rushed through their first day.

15. Continue to Provide Support, Training, and Development Opportunities

Keep the momentum going. Offer workshops, training sessions, or even a chat about career paths. It’s about nurturing their growth, not just getting them through the door.

Develop a personalized development plan for each employee, including opportunities for additional training, certifications, or attending industry events.

Bonus Tip: Leveraging Technology in Onboarding

Incorporate apps and software to make things smoother. Imagine an app where they can access schedules, training materials, and even chat with their mentor. It’s like giving them a toolkit for success right in their pocket. 

Use tech to take the heavy lifting out of onboarding, leaving more room for the human touch that really makes them feel at home.

Rewriting the narrative 

Transforming the way we onboard employees in the restaurant and hospitality industries is more than a necessity—it's an opportunity. 

By focusing on a comprehensive and engaging onboarding process, we can create a workforce that's not only skilled but also emotionally invested in their work and your business. 

This is how we start rewriting the narrative of high employee turnover in these vibrant industries. Let's create workplaces where employees don't just work but thrive.

Learn more about All Gravy

Get in touch to learn more about All Gravy and how we can help you create a better workplace.
Book a call