Momentum for skills-first hiring is rapidly growing across restaurants. The average tenure of a restaurant employee is 56 days. But as the gap between job opened and jobs filled widens, separation rates are declining. Training is no longer just about compliance and onboarding new hires. 

According to Korn Ferry's "Future of Work" report, the skills gap in the United States is estimated to result in a loss of $1.748 trillion in potential revenue. Continuous learning is essential for organizational success. No only to respond to employee churn, but also to meet the changing demands of customers in the face of economic uncertainty. This is of course especially true in the restaurant industry, where the landscape is constantly changing. 

The Training Manager role is no longer solely responsible for training employees but also for transforming the organization's capabilities and making learning an integral part of the company's strategic agenda. The traditional role of the Training Manager in the restaurant industry was focused on providing classroom and occasionally compliance-oriented training to employees. However, this new type of leader is a strong senior manager with a mission to help the company and its employees thrive in the face of rapid change.

Embracing the Expanded Training Role: Learning Methods and Departments

Extensive interviews with senior learning officers at large restaurant companies revealed a shift towards embracing this expanded role. Learning methods are being adapted to accommodate the changing demographics of frontline workers, particularly younger generations who are more accustomed to self-education through YouTube and other forms of screen-based learning. So, the requirement to build engaging content while also providing a feedback loop for continuous improvement, both on the level of the provider and the learner.

Meeting the Needs of the Digital Generation in Training

While much of the innovation in the industry has focused on enhancing the customer experience, there is a growing recognition that technology can also improve employee efficiency and engagement. Brands are investing in technologies specifically designed for their employees, such as upgraded POS systems and mobile-based training platforms. These tech-based training solutions provide flexibility, engagement, and real-time data for better decision-making.

Data-Driven Training: The Power of Analytics

Traditionally, restaurant businesses have lacked good data when it comes to their training programs. However, with the emergence of new training platforms, this is starting to change. KPIs and manager bonuses can now be linked back to training completion. Brands are demanding better technology and data to measure the efficiency of their teams and the impact of training on sales growth. This goes for training managers too - the KPIs are changing.

Building Brand Loyalty through Training

It's common knowledge that customers don’t trust companies or restaurant operators with lower than 4-star ratings on review sites. I'd venture to guess that 4-star requirement aligns with employee expectations of those brands as well. In the highly competitive restaurant industry, brand loyalty is crucial for driving frequency of customer visits. Training plays a key role in building and maintaining this loyalty. By providing consistent and high-quality training to employees, restaurants can ensure that they deliver a positive and memorable customer experience. Engaged and well-trained employees are more likely to provide excellent service, which leads to customer satisfaction and repeat business.

The Future of Restaurant Training: Hybrid Learning Prototypes

Looking ahead, the future of restaurant training lies in hybrid prototypes. These prototypes blend the best elements of on-the-job, in-person training with the flexibility and accessibility of technology-driven solutions. Hybrid training allows for a personalized and adaptive learning experience that meets the needs of different generations and demographics of workers. It combines the benefits of face-to-face interaction and hands-on practice with the scalability and cost-effectiveness of technology.

The future of restaurant training lies in the hands of the leaders who are willing to embrace change and lead their organizations towards a more agile and adaptable future. I remain optimistic.