I sat down with two distinguished learning and development professionals, and we spoke about the future of training and learning in restaurants. So let's first briefly consider what is happening today.
The national labor shortage has been a part of our daily news. Why is it happening? How does this affect service? How long can we expect it to last? This shortage hits the restaurant community with brute force — an industry that traditionally deals with high turnover.
Today's learner has changed. There is a surplus of jobs. Global attention span has shrunk.
How can restaurants retain employees?
The solution to hiring and retaining employees lies within training and development. The architects of this are the learning and development professionals, a vibrant cohort of individuals passionate about people and culture. Training the frontline of restaurants is unique. As a restaurant worker, you work holidays and weekends and develop a deeper level of intimacy. Tiffany Perez, Director Of Training And Development at Salata, notes, "We are family. We live by our family values." As Katie Tosov, Director Of Training at Zalat Pizza, said "Restaurant training is hard. You aren't just training facts and procedures; you are training culture and training hospitality."
Furthermore, you aren't training one population; you are teaching people of different generations and backgrounds. With all this diversity, you have to deliver consistent and systematic training.
As Tiffany pointed out, "in the past, we had manuals and packets and books. They were hundred-page books that would take a month to go through," But time was a luxury of the past; restaurants need employees on the floor.
Goodbye analog, hello digital
Luckily, technology has evolved, allowing trainers to meet the learner where they are. As Tiffany explains, "You're giving them the tools and then following up with them and using our system to track results." Trainers can create and blast out lessons in less time than it would take to print a manual. Thus, allowing training to be tailored to the present moment and the individual learner. It compliments in-person learning. As Katie said, "training is about being agile and in the moment."
Part of being in the moment also means making sure the employee can access the training materials. Now training can be delivered directly to the learner through their cellphone. This is especially important when you consider that 85% of frontline employees have a smartphone.
In the past, phones were the nemesis of learning, but now, they are the key to accessibility. As Tiffany notes, "you were taught never to use your phone. Now people are using their phone for checklists and temperature logs."
The future of training is shedding these outdated notions that don't serve us anymore. Society and technology are evolving quickly, and our mindset must keep pace. As Katie says, "Filter what you are doing through the eyes of the trainee and the operation. Always be nimble and ready to pivot at any time. Embrace change and challenge. Seek to understand it and learn more about it."
The future is limitless; it's using technology as the tool to meet the learner where they are and engage them in a meaningful way.