Last year, I wrote about the three ways businesses are evolving in the new era of work. Employers of "deskless" workers, especially restaurants, have continued to see these truths play out.

In 2021, restaurants showed operational agility. Employers adjusted to ever-changing guidelines while responding to low staffing levels and customer demands. Turnover went back to pre-pandemic levels as the war for talent waged on at a fervor more aggressive than any previous year in the 21st century. Restaurants as a result started to analyze their "tech suite" (or "tech stack") to ensure that every layer of their operation was running on modern technology that showed a return on investment. With supply and demand issues both for talent and goods, the pressure for businesses to fundamentally change their operations is only expected to increase.

I'm optimistic about the year to come. Innovation is happening in both the training and restaurant industries and employers are investing in their ideas. The numbers speak for themselves.

Annual training expenditures by private employers grew from $83 billion in 2019 and 2020 to $92 billion in 2021. Since 2019 employers have increased their budget for training staff payroll by 24%. At the same time, from 2020 to 2021, training hours per employee went up while training expenditures went down. The explanation is clear — employers are investing more in training while demanding training efficiency. (Source: Training Magazine)

5 Restaurant Training Trends To Watch in 2022

1. Training managers will have a more cross-functional role

CHART reported in 2019 that training directors were increasingly reporting to operations. At Opus we have continued to see this trend. This is not because Human Resources plays less of a role in training. It is because there are deeper organizational training needs that require broader oversight. Enter operations.

Employers with large distributed workforces need to do more with fewer managers. So, operationalizing training is essential. Businesses can increase efficiency with great training, but a return on investment is critical. Thus, investing in training infrastructure - people and systems - ensures there is a positive impact on a business' bottom line.

2. Employers will double down on compliance training

Restaurants typically allocate the most funding to industry-specific training and supervisory training, with mandatory compliance training following in a close third.

Of course, COVID-19 and its variants have impacted how employers invest in compliance training. There was a 4000% increase in employer-reported respiratory illness cases in 2020. In 2020, the median number of days away from work in all private industry occupations was 12 days, an increase from 8 days in 2019. (Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics)

With more OSHA requirements on the horizon, there will be a new layer of illness-prevention training in the new year. Coupled with other forms of compliance training such as sexual harassment prevention, allergen training, and food handlers certification, state and federal training requirements are only becoming more rigid.

I'm bullish on industry-specific compliance training. Employers won't settle for check-the-box compliance anymore. They are demanding that their workforce demonstrate knowledge transfer. From a pedagogical standpoint, the more relevant a course is to the immediate work you are doing, the more likely it is you will use that knowledge immediately therefore reducing risk.

3. "Social Learning" for a multigenerational workforce

Gen Z has entered the labor force and is reshaping expectations for training. Social learning aims to achieve higher levels of knowledge retention in response to the needs and habits of a multigenerational workforce.

The approach was developed by Albert Bandura. It abandons rote learning models and favors situation-based learning. Social learning follows a theoretical ratio -- about 70% of employee learning happens on-the-job, 20% through interactions with coworkers (i.e. shadowing), and 10% instructor-led environments.

Employers, restaurants especially, naturally deploy this model. It’s a targeted form of "blended learning", where a manager uses various methods in order to train on a specific topic. For instance, a cashier completes a new hire course, shadows a colleague, then spends time one-on-one with a manager for coaching.

Common sense, right? There's a problem.

The problem with social learning is that it is hard to track and expensive to keep consistent. By leveraging technology in order to completely track learning on- and offline, employers will gain efficiency in the new era of work. And, in a time where companies have to do more with less people, there is not doubt we’ll see employers invest more in how they track their "just in time training well beyond the next year.

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4. Employee-generated content ("EGC")

In software we call this "user-generated content" ("UGC"). It is images, videos, text and any other content that has been posted by employees on online platforms. The benefits of EGC are endless. Training directors spend less time developing content and more time curating it. (What a wonderful use of talent.) Managers stay engaged with corporate training initiatives by creating quick Facetime videos and taking photos that are relevant to their team, then shipping them upstream for use en masse. Better yet, frontline employees stay engaged with games and rewards programs encouraging them to create short how-to videos for their new colleagues or to take photos of new dishes. It's a win win win.

In the coming year, we'll see technology platforms build tools to capture this new facet of social learning, delivering more ROI for employers than ever before.

5. Less laptops. More phones.

Laptops as well as tablets grew in popularity in restaurants 10 years ago when third party ordering began to explode. That trend spilled over into training. Learning Management Systems (LMS) needed a way to be more accessible while still being web-based. And, while these computers sufficed for the past decade, employers are exasperated.

  1. Logistics are a mess. These shared computers go missing and are hard to track down. And worse, 3 out of 4 employees don't have an active working email. With web-based systems, this leads to shared logins and the majority of frontline team members being excluded from training.
  2. Tablets and laptops are slow. They are not updated and replaced as often as personal devices. The former has a cycle of 3-5 years while the latter is 1-2 years (22 months to be exact).
  3. Poor learning experiences. Tablets and laptops don't allow for synchronous learning experiences in the workplace. And, as restaurant operators push to retain their people meaningful employee engagement is critical.

Learning via smartphone will only increase in the coming years. 98% of employees have a phone, so sharing devices is no longer necessary. Aside from lower costs and more training efficiency, there are cultural and pedagogical upsides. Using personal devices for training provides flexibility for "just-in-time" learning. Additionally, managers are demanding that their entire team has a pathway to stay and grow. This starts with employees having equitable access to company training. The old ways don't cut it.

In a time when operations are changing almost daily and the competition for labor is as high as it is, training over mobile meets your people where they are.