In order to really harness the power of microlearning you need to build repetition into your learning culture. Melanie Isola, former Global Hospitality Director at Matthew Kenney Cuisine, suggests leveraging pre-shifts. “Preshifts and postshifts are fantastic opportunities to promote microlearning within the restaurant atmosphere. There are not a lot of opportunities in a busy shift to gather the team and review hot-button topics together.”

WTF is Microlearning anyways?

If you google “microlearning” there are over 4,530,000 results. It’s commonly known that microlessons are short or bite-sized lessons that take no more than 10 minutes. However, as Melanie points out, “micro lessons don't mean short. They mean focused.” Microlearning is based on research about how people remember new information that they learn. In a famous study, researchers found that people forget 90% of the information that they’ve learned within the first 30 days if their information is not properly reinforced. To improve knowledge retention (i.e learning outcomes) lessons should be bite-sized & revisited multiple times.

There are 3 ways to distribute microlessons:

  1. Technology: apps or e-learning
  2. In-person: trainer or classroom learning
  3. Blended learning: a combination of both

Blended Learning for the Win

Blended learning works best for restaurants because it’s flexible enough to cover a myriad range of topics and can be tailored for the diverse workforce. Imagine learning how to filet a fish in an e-learning course, or learning how to troubleshoot your drive through AI from your trainer. 

7/10 restaurants don't have enough staff to support their current service demand [1]. “We think that tech is taking the human side out of the business. And that's not true. It enhances the human side because it takes mindless tasks out of the issue.”- Melanie Isola

Blended learning leverages technology to reduce busy work so that managers and employees have time to collaborate in a meaningful way. “That social element is so important and it's not about using technology to take it away. It's about using technology to enhance it. And I think that once we get on board with that idea, it allows us to not be afraid to use other technologies then.”- Melanie Isola

Best practice for operationalizing preshift:

  1. Keep preshifts short & impactful:
    “Instead of having a 15-minute pre-shift every single day, you can record one five-minute pre-shift and then create a small assessment and then host a five-minute pre-shift that just questions on that. And now you've cut down your time as a manager, but you didn't realize that until you actually were actively engaged in it.”- Melanie Isola

  2. Provide managers with themes & topics:
    As Melanie points out, this can help managers reframe how they approach thinking about preshift, “having categories that you hit on so that the pre-shift become impactful is really important when there's not enough structure for pre-shift.” Core values, mission statements, & business objectives can all be used as themes. But make sure that the goals are relevant to the audience. Remember, front-of-house employees won't resonate with raising profitability, but they will resonate with learning more about selling wine tableside to increase check averages & tips.

  3. Don’t Micromanage:
    Empower managers to apply themes to preshift in their own way. This makes it relevant to their teams. Plus a study by Gallup found that when managers and their employees actually apply their strengths to their work and lives every day, they are six times as likely to be engaged in their jobs & three times as likely to report having an excellent quality of life [2].

  1. Always follow up:
    Revisiting knowledge is essential to the success of knowledge retention & recaps allow all employees to access shift notes. Provide managers with a way to send out recap notes & accept anonymous feedback. This increases accessibility & creates visibility for above-restaurant operators who need insight into what’s actually happening on the floor. This puts operators on the offense as they can pinpoint trends across locations and to provide support before the issue gets out of hand.

As Melanie says, “the future of preshifts is not fully digital, but we can make them more experiential for our staff through the use of technology.”