The labor crisis burns on. According to the National Restaurant Association's “State of the Industry Report 2022,” 78 percent of operators report not having a fully-staffed restaurant. That is due in part to the astronomically high turnover rates that have only grown since the outset of the pandemic. Turnover, says Rachael Nemeth, co-founder and CEO of Opus, is partially a product of poorly trained employees who are not as productive as they could be early in their tenure.
“Restaurants need to do more with fewer people,” Nemeth says. “Imagine you walk into your first day at a quick-service restaurant and you’ve never worked in the industry before. You don’t know left from right. A coworker who is not a manager says, ‘Hey, come here—I’ll show you how to ring things up.’ There’s a problem with that scenario—That new hire is likely to get inconsistent information and there is no ability to track how well they were onboarded and trained. This is happening everywhere because of staffing challenges.”
Many brands understand that quality training is the key to effectively onboarding and retaining employees. The problem, Nemeth says, is that many of those same brands end up purchasing a learning management system ("LMS") that will digitize 100 percent of their training and claim to eliminate the need for in-person training. According to a survey recently conducted by Opus, that’s not what frontline workers want as digital training does not do a good job of simulating the realities of frontline work. The survey polled 110 frontline workers in the quick-service industry between the ages of 18 and 34 and found that the majority of them want a blend of digital and in-person training, but have received far more that is digital-only.
Those same Gen Z and Millennial employees reported wanting more interesting content, shorter lessons, and better translations into their preferred language. It should be noted that none of those surveyed had used Opus as a training solution, something that was intentional in order to ensure the neutrality of the results. Built with deskless workers in mind, the training platform combines mobile-based digital learning with technology to track hands-on training to help restaurants give employees the know-how to perform confidently and feel like valued, productive employees.
“Keeping in-person, practical training is important,” Nemeth says. “The challenge is, how to track that data and combine it with what's coming from corporate digitally? How do we capture the in-person moments and get insights on how our managers are performing as trainers? We are creating a blended method of learning that combines the on-the-job training that is already happening with digital training delivered in a more accessible manner. That's what employees need and are asking for.”
Data and insights is a place where Nemeth believes Opus excels. Restaurant owners report loving the platform because it tracks not just if employees are completing digital courses, but also if store managers are checking in on those employees to ensure they are progressing. Opus also gives insights into engagement levels beyond whether or not somebody logged into the system. The platform tracks things like how many managers verified a skill and collects feedback from employees on their training experience, for example.
“We give employers granular data that helps them build connective tissue with their frontline managers and associates,” Nemeth says. “It gives them a real-time view of what employees learned and how comfortable they feel with company knowledge. And at the same time, we’re showing both sides of the data. Maybe you have a 90 percent course completion rate amongst employees but the manager is only verifying 20 percent of those practical skills. You can then understand that there is a lack of hands-on training. Is it the employee or the manager that needs to step up, then? That's why employers are seeing so much success with the platform. It's about access, accountability, and opportunities for growth.”
And while many training platforms focus on communication between management and deskless workers, the revolutionary aspect of Opus, Nemeth says, is that it reflects the reality of training on the frontline. Yes, there's communication built in, but that should be a given on any modern platform, Nemeth says. The ultimate goal is for employers who are struggling to attract and keep employees by building a distinct culture—that’s how the labor crisis is going to be solved.
“We’re helping solve the worker shortage problem and starting with training because that’s the hard problem to solve,” Nemeth says. “Employers can no longer afford to send 100-page employee handbooks. That already existed, but there’s no meaningful data that comes with it and therefore no ROI for the brand. We’re focusing on the training problem first and from there you can really seize the opportunity to operationalize your workforce.”
To learn more about how to better train your multigenerational workers, visit the Opus website.