Reduce Restaurant Employee Turnover Using Effective Onboarding

Whether you are hiring for your restaurant locations or your management offices, the onboarding process will be key to determining your employees’ engagement and retention. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 23% of the workforce had been with their employer less than one year. That’s an awful lot of new hires. And 33% of these new hires will begin the job search again within 6 months. The onboarding process plays a huge role in this. Effective onboarding makes new hires feel valued and productive. Increased engagement means higher quality work and longer retention. At Restaurant Magic we wanted to share 6 steps we have learned to improve your onboarding process.

1.       Communicate early and often – Begin talking with your new hire right away about what to expect on their first day. Set clear expectations about arrival time, dress and appearance. Let them know if they need to purchase special clothing or uniforms. Have some recommendations ready about where to purchase these items. Consider putting together a new hire packet that you can give them with a welcome letter, introduction, and the above information written out.  

2.       Prepare their Space – A day or two before they arrive, prepare their workspace or personal area to make them feel welcome. Clean out and label their locker, workstation or desk. Make sure supplies and equipment are ready to go. If you have a company handbook, have a copy prepared for them. If you don’t, consider making one. A handbook is a great way to introduce your new hire to the company culture and history, and to explain workplace expectations and HR policies.  

3.       Prepare your team – Talk to your existing staff about the new hire before they arrive. You don’t want anybody acting confused when the new hire shows up. A great way to make your new hire feel welcome is to introduce them to rest of the staff. Don’t rely on natural introductions throughout the day. Consider arranging a meeting to ensure that your new hire knows everybody and feels like part of the team.

At Restaurant Magic we like to have team interviews so that the group can get to know potential new hires before the onboarding process. This way, we get to see how candidates interact with our team. It also gives new hires a sense of familiarity when they arrive on the first day. Imagine how much easier it is coming in your first day to a brand-new environment when you are greeted by familiar faces. Think about ways you could bring this concept into your environment. Maybe you can make some introductions as part of the interview process. Or add introductions and welcome letters into the new hire packet.

4.       Offer a Facility Tour – Don’t let your new hire feel overwhelmed in their new surroundings. Start off their first day with a tour of the restaurant. Show them both the front and back of house. Even if they don’t really need to know both sides, it will help them feel like part of the team. Make sure they know where all the important areas are; restroom, locker area, office, walk ins, dry storage, etc. If this is a corporate office employee, think about arranging a tour of a restaurant location during their first few weeks. Showing them the restaurant side of the business and introducing them to your restaurant staff will help them feel connected and better able to visualize their role in the overall structure.

5.       Arrange a mentor or trainer – Part of an intentional and successful onboarding process is proper training. Don’t rely on your team to train the new hire through osmosis. Be intentional about your training process. Arrange a mentor for your new hire to shadow. This person will set the tone for your new hire’s experience. Make sure they represent your company’s culture and values. Consider creating formal training materials as well. Having training guides and references can significantly increase a new hire’s productivity. Think about using a management solution to create training guides. With Data Central, you can create customized training modules to help new staff understand the daily processes quickly and easily.

6.       Set Expectations - Make sure your new hire understands what is expected. Imagine how frustrating it would be for them to find out a week into their job that they aren’t performing an important set of responsibilities. Discuss up front all of the responsibilities of the job and your expectations. This includes which tasks are included and how and when they should be performed. Also discuss behavior, arrival times, dress and hygiene directions at this time. Follow-up at the end of the first week to see how your new hire is settling in. Ask about their onboarding process and whether they have any recommendations for improvement. Getting feedback can help you identify gaps in your process and lets your new hire feel like a valuable voice in the company.

Data Central by Restaurant Magic is a comprehensive back office software management program with full-service support. We would love to talk to you about planning an effective onboarding strategy. To find out more, please call us at (813) 288-2633 (toll free – 1(800) 933-4711) or visit our website at