5 Tips for Training the 2015 Restaurant Workforce

Younger generations are flooding the U.S. workforce, changing the way all businesses hire, train and retain employees. Restaurants in particular are grappling with a deluge of Millennials (those born between 1981 and 1996) into their ranks. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the share of restaurant jobs held by 20- to 24-year-olds grew from 21.4 percent in 2007 to more than 24 percent in 2013.

To accommodate younger employees’ unique habits and work styles, restaurants of all types are prioritizing employee training in 2015. Here are a few tips to help restaurant owners and operators better manage Millennials in the workplace:


    1. Embrace technology: Millennials are tech savvy by nature; they spend hours each day online and tuned in to their mobile devices. To effectively motivate Millennials in the workplace, managers need to adapt training efforts to the platforms younger employees prefer. Chains like Chipotle, for example, are swapping traditional training binders for software that streams video and other educational content to tablets so employees can learn on the go, and at their own pace.


    1. Offer cross-staff mentorship: Front-of-house workers need to master more than just customer service; they should also be knowledgeable about how menu items are prepared, where ingredients are sourced and even how restaurant financials work. By pairing younger employees with in-house, more experienced mentors, restaurants can expose Millennials to other parts of the business and capitalize on generational differences in the workplace.


    1. Make learning interactive: Reading about how to handle a frustrated diner is not the same as dealing with one during the height of dinner service. Role playing front- and back-of-house scenarios lets younger workers learn by doing, instilling the confidence they need to tackle real restaurant challenges.


    1. Practice ongoing education: Research shows that Millennials value career advancement opportunities and company training programs as much as – and sometimes more than – benefits and compensation. Rather than treat training as a one-time step in the onboarding process, make it a regular habit. Holding daily or weekly staff huddles to reflect on issues, sharing new menu or promotion ideas, and conducting demos helps motivate Millennials in the workplace and promotes internal collaboration.


  1. Gamify your training: Creating friendly competition can go a long way when engaging and managing Millennials in the workplace. Setting up regular contests to track employees’ customer service skills or equipment mastery livens up the standard training protocol and incentivizes employees to constantly improve.


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