5 Ways to Use Training to Minimize Employee Turnover
The foodservice industry’s annual hourly employee churn averages 100%. Yes, you read that right. The number is obscene and embarrassing, yet many foodservice operators merely shrug it off as “the price of doing business.” That perspective is short-sighted and wrong. I contend this 100% turnover rate is unsustainable for continued growth, untenable for manager tenure and unnecessary for forward-thinking operators. Simply put, if your labor strategy is focused solely on how to get the most out of people while paying them as little as possible, you’re playing a zero-sum game. So let’s discuss how training relates to turnover and share a few best demonstrated practices to better engage and retain our new and veteran team members.
Culture first, process second. “The only thing we have is one another. The only competitive advantage we have is the culture and values of the company,” says Howard Schultz CEO, Starbucks. “Anyone can open up a coffee store. We have no technology, no patent. All we have is the relationship around the values of the company and what we bring to the customer every day. And we all have to own it.” The goal of an effective training program is to instill and align company culture, not simply to infuse a process. Process can be looked up. Identify the 5 or 10 keystone cultural behaviors that all employees should share (like empathy, teamwork, customer service, communication, etc.) and redesign your training program to reinforce those skills. Determine first what you stand for and then what you should do to stand out.
Questions are the answers. Brand execs could ask themselves a simple question to help solve the turnover crisis: “What kind of company would have employees fighting to get into it, not fighting to stay out of it?” At Facebook, candidates are asked the following question: “On your very best day at work–the day you come home and think you have the best job in the world– what did you do that day?” Document the responses and incorporate those behaviors into your supervisor’s and teammates development program.
Stay Interviews. Ten years ago, the concept of “Exit Interviews” was all the rage, a process designed to assess why employees leave companies. Roy Hinojosa, a Division President at Golden Corral, has a different perspective: “I think it’s much more important to know, at regular intervals, why our people are staying with us. The more we understand what’s most valuable to them, the better we can provide more of that, and keep them with us longer. That’s why regular ‘Stay’ interviews, to me, are much more valuable than an exit interview.”
Educate, don’t lecture. Take a good hard look at the tone and timbre of your operations training materials. Is the “voice” you’re using in your videos, elearning and position manuals patriarchal in tone? Uncertain? Read a couple of pages out loud. You’ll know the answer.
Fix the disconnect. Do you sit new hires down with a GM who pumps them up for 45 minutes about how awesome the company is and then sends them off to HR for a few hours of paperwork that commences with a detailed checklist of all the ways they might get fired? Think through the process that new team members experience and make certain it’s positive, welcoming and engaging with no mixed messages. Ask employees who just went through onboarding with you what they liked best and least about it.
One of the more popular presentations I do for foodservice leaders at conferences is called “Foodservice 2021: Five Big Changes & Five Big Obstacles We’ll Face in the Next Five Years.” The topic and content is compelling because it shares cutting-edge and best demonstrated practices in operations today, while offering a realistic look at how technology will transform hiring, service, marketing, management and training tomorrow. Many foodservice brands have grasped the competitive advantage of transforming training in order to transform their teams which transforms their guest service. And they’re seeing lower turnover, higher tenure, and happier customers as a result. Simply put: from here on out, make hiring THE most important decision.
Jim Sullivan is a popular speaker at foodservice leadership conferences worldwide. You can get his training catalog of resources at Sullivision.com and follow him on LinkedIn, YouTube or Twitter @Sullivision. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org