How to Improve Retention and Create QSR Champions
High employee turnover has historically challenged the quick-service and fast-casual restaurant industry. This is still true after COVID-19’s arrival, but with possibly greater risk to the customer experience than previously. For now, even highly seasoned staffers are leaving the restaurant industry as never before, threatening operational efficiency and stability.
Luckily, there is some positive news: Despite competition, shrinking profits and other challenges, experts still believe the industry will grow to $932 billion by 2027. So how can fast-casual and QSR chains capitalize on that growth to thrive from here on?
Improving employee retention and morale is an important first step. Deploying automated workforce scheduling, task management, and mobile employee self-service applications, with analytical capabilities, are a great way to bolster such programs.
Understanding Employee Churn
When quality people leave, they also take with them their training and institutional knowledge. This means added costs from hiring and retraining new team members, and reduced customer experience from having less skilled team members on the front lines.
Restaurant closures, layoffs, and furloughs have clearly accelerated the current crisis’ churn. However, unpredictability from varying federal, state and local rules, along with the ups and downs of the economy, has added to employee frustration. The industry’s operations are more complex, with restaurant managers “figuring out new staffing levels amid capacity restrictions,” as a recent QSR magazine article notes.
Reducing churn means simplifying these operations and ensuring that employees feel safe, engaged, and supported.
Empowering Frontline Managers, Engaging Associates
Frontline managers can’t control everything. However, they can make restaurant work-life as safe and productive as possible. That includes giving employees more control and flexibility in their scheduling, as availability can vary (especially if employees are care givers, too). It also means improving the quality of instructions, especially for new processes, and providing real-time feedback and validation.
Naturally, supporting these processes can be time-consuming and difficult. It may even be impossible if managers or executives are still relying on spreadsheets, phones, or a host of disparate and often outdated labor scheduling, task management, and communications platforms.
Fortunately, there are modern labor management solutions available, on-demand, that you can roll out across your entire chain of restaurants quickly. These systems enable field and corporate managers to effectively guide associates through disruptive periods.
Building Morale Through Better Technology
Without extra burden, managers can more quickly flag and handle exceptions, with schedules based on accurate, proven data. Capabilities to support management and associates should enable:
- Agility: Be able to move fast, with your best employees in the loop and at the ready via mobile communications. This means being able to schedule according to current demands, and forecast via both current and historical data. The models must factor in data harvested after March 2020, including info on closures, openings, cleaning schedules and demands, and so on.
- Schedule & pay process empowerment: Make team members feel some measure of autonomy. Let them (particularly care givers with varying personal schedules) remotely check hours, swap shifts and so on. And they can do this without burdening managers, who just need to review and approve changes. Also, mobile employee self-service will allow associates to punch in and out accurately, and get paid quickly. They will be much happier that way.
- Communication clarity & focus: Too much noise in the communication pipeline confuses managers and associates alike, leading to frustration, wasted time, and so on. You must centrally provide managers and associates with actionable real-time information on tasks and safety procedures. For instance, field managers can share messages to associates via distribution lists and preconfigured messaging templates. Cutting confusion makes for a happier—and safer—employee and manager.
- Configurability: To protect your staff properly, your safety and hygiene-related tasks must be streamlined and configured to support your location-specific needs. This includes how you run your audits, checks and inspections, and so on. Your associates will feel better knowing you have their health and safety covered.
- Long-term improvement & retention via analytics: Do what it takes to keep your best people. Establish system benchmarks or KPIs that you know support good morale. Review performance data and drill down into recurring exceptions. Also, flag issues in locations where the turnover is especially high. Then create thresholds that allow managers to intervene and fix procedures before you lose proven employees.
A solution that requires accountability will help you support frontline managers and team members as they execute their challenging, and potentially hazardous, jobs and tasks. And, they’ll be happier and better equipped to maintain the great experience your customers desire.
For more insight into how you can address COVID-19 at your fast casual or quick service restaurant business, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll set up time to chat.