Putting Millennials To Work In Your Restaurant
Restaurant operators everywhere lament high staff turnover due to millennials and their apparent lack of work ethic. If you are a Baby Boomer like I am, it is difficult to understand why millennials are so different and why they have such difficulty adapting to work in the restaurant industry. The truth is that millennials are different: their needs and their motivations. Here are the some of the differences and ideas to put them to work for you:
Connect Thru Technology
The easiest difference to identify is their need for technology. In fact, millennials are the most technologically connected generation. Cell phones replaced security blankets and so it is no surprise that technology connects this generation to the rest of the world. The idea of filling out a paper form, like an application for employment, is foreign in a world of profiles and auto complete. Driving to a restaurant for a meeting to learn how to sell wine just isn’t as effective (or convenient) when Vimeo or a Ted Talk can provide better information in a customizable format. Technology based solutions will help millennials connect to your business and keep them engaged.
TalentReef (www.talentreef.com) is a complete human resource solution – Everything you need to find, hire, train and manage your staff. Their solution incorporates social recruiting and online everything. TalentReef features a modular design that allows you to customize your experience and use only the tools that find most important.
Homebase (www.joinhomebase.com) is a great tool that will provide you and your management team an easy way to connect with your staff on matters of scheduling and communication. Homebase offers an arsenal of free tools for Scheduling, Time Tracking, Team Commumication, Reporting and Mobile Apps. For just $10 per month per location, you can add SMS Notificaitons and Mobile GPS Timeclock.
ExpandShare (www.expandshare.com) is a training platform for exclusively for restaurants that include built-in courses for waitstaff, hosts, bartenders and more. Create your own training sessions by supplying 2 minute videos and ExpandShare will take care of the rest.
Social Sense of Self
Millennials defined the need for social media and their sense of self identity mirrors their online profile. You need to embrace social media if you want to attract and keep millennials. Millennials need to identify with the brands that they associate with – the friends they keep, the clothes they wear, the food they eat and yes their employers too. You need to be online and your presence needs to be current and full of vitality. Many restaurants rely solely on Facebook to represent their brand, but this simply put, is not enough. You must have a website to anchor your digital media presence and should use Facebook, Google+, Twitter and Instagram at a minimum. There are lots of great tools to help you manage this piece of your business including, BentoBox, GetFound, HootSuite and others, but that is another conversation altogether.
Let your millennial team members drive your online brand. Incorporate staff driven content into your social media streams. They are masters of telling a story with a few pictures or a ten second video. Today’s cell phones have fantastic cameras and native apps allow easy control to crop pictures and edit videos. When taking pictures, you have probably noticed that those helicopter style shots are no longer in vogue – instead low angle closeups are the choice today. Here is a simple trick to achieve great low angle shots: Turn your cell phone upside down to take pictures. You will have to rotate them back right-side-up, before editing or using them, but they will look great!
Collaboration is Key
In my day, I would get told to do a certain job in a certain way and that was the end of it. If I asked why, the answer was invariably, “Because I said so.” Strategies employed in schools in the early 2000s put students in clusters (or teams) and usually offered the students a full glimpse of their assignments so they could judge how to manage their time to get the work done. Asking a young worker to go complete a task and expecting them to come find you when the work is done to receive further instructions will lead you into a state of exhaustive frustration. Instead, think about organizing your staff into teams – The A Team and The B Team, or by day part (breakfast, lunch, dinner) or by day of the week. Millennials need to like the people they work with, so don’t shy away from putting friends on teams together. Make sure that the tasks for the day are well documented and available at the beginning of the shift. It is important to create opportunities for work teams to supply feedback in the form of organizational meetings or a (digital) suggestion box. It is important that serious suggestions for improvement are incorporated into the business and that employees are celebrated and rewarded for the feedback.
Successfully incorporating millennials into a restaurant workforce requires changes in systems and the adoption of new technology. While change is always difficult, the only choice is to make your restaurant fit millennials. Chances are if you can’t attract and keep millennial workers, you are going to find it equally difficult to attract and keep millennial diners.