In the hospitality industry, the peak summer season can be even busier and more important than the winter holiday season. As a result, many businesses need to take on temporary summer staff for anything from a few months to a single day. It’s therefore vital that businesses know how to train hospitality staff quickly and effectively. With that in mind, here are some tips to help.
Lay the groundwork before you hire
Before you hire new staff, make sure that you have a plan in place for onboarding them. This plan needs to cover three main areas.
- Providing staff with the tools they need to do their job
- Ensuring recruits are confident carrying out tasks required of them
- Providing any and all training needed
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Equipping staff to do their job
In most hospitality jobs, staff will need a combination of physical equipment and digital tools. Make a list of all physical equipment staff will require. Divide it up into items you can reasonably expect staff to have, and items you will need to provide.
For the items you need to supply, divide your list into articles that need to be sized to fit (e.g. uniforms) and items that don’t (e.g. stationary items). Then, set out a process for buying these as necessary. Make sure you have current and accurate lead times for all items. If possible, have a workaround option for situations when you can’t get equipment promptly.
Next, think about any accesses your new staff will need. For example, if they’re doing opening or closing, they’ll need keys, plus the codes to any alarms you have. If they’re taking payments, then they’ll need to be set up on your payment system.
Training hospitality staff on company-specific processes
The first thing new hires need to know is exactly when and where they’ll be working. This information will usually be shared with them via a rota.
After this, they’ll need to know exactly what they’re expected to do and how to do it. In general, the easiest way to communicate this is to create a staff handbook. This can be online or on paper - or both. You can also use the rota to communicate additional key information, for example, which manager will be in charge during each shift.
When putting together a staff handbook, start by looking at what you and your staff do. Next, analyse how these tasks are performed and set out those steps in a handbook. It may be helpful to use diagrams and photos as well as written text. By contrast, be wary of using audio and video. These can be hard to access offline and are not ideal for quick referencing.
Be as concise as possible, but if in doubt err on the side of caution and overcommunicate. This is particularly important with anything related to health and safety. Additionally, make sure your staff know who to direct their questions to.
Creating a thorough staff handbook may seem like a chore. However, it can actually save you a lot of time - even in the short term. What’s more, you should only need to do the bulk of the work once. After that, you will just need to update your records when and if any changes are made.
Training hospitality staff to work effectively
Like most jobs, hospitality roles tend to involve a mixture of hard skills and soft skills. Hard skills relate to the practical aspects of doing the job. Soft skills refer to the way team-members interact with other people, including both colleagues and customers.
Training hospitality staff to perform hard skills
In general, hard skills tend to be easier to teach than soft skills. But the teaching process can be even further facilitated by streamlining your working practices. For example, training staff to handle payments is a lot easier if your payment solution is straightforward to use, as is the case with the solutions offered by Square.
If you’ve documented your company processes thoroughly, then you have an excellent foundation for training your new hospitality staff to perform hard skills. Just ensure that your handbook adequately outlines all the essential steps for carrying out ‘hard skill’ tasks.
It can also be useful to consider alternative ways to communicate training information. For example, can you turn written instructions and step-by-step guides into short videos? If you’re able to give staff uninterrupted time to watch them, videos can be really useful training resources. Additionally, creating quizzes to check if new-hires have really understood what they’ve been taught can 1) encourage trainees to retain their training information, and 2) catch out areas where staff aren’t confident (meaning they can revisit relevant sections of the training).
You might also consider splitting up the workbook to create guides tailored to different areas and tasks. For example, if you have a section dedicated to guiding staff through using the coffee machine, consider placing it beside the coffee machine for easy reference.
Training hospitality staff to perform soft skills
Training hospitality staff to perform soft skills is more challenging than with hard skills. Ideally, you should hire staff who already demonstrate good soft skills (they may demonstrate these during their interview or trial shift). In this case, you only need to work on finessing an existing skill set. This can be done by observing new staff members and giving constructive feedback.
In reality, however, this is not always possible - especially during busy periods. When dealing with new recruits that lack these natural abilities, the best approach is to identify the most common scenarios which require soft skills, and provide trainees with as much guidance as possible on how to handle them. This should include an escalation process that enables staff to get prompt help whenever they feel they need it.