Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, reducing turnover was one of the biggest restaurant operator concerns. Now, amid the Great Resignation, hiring and retaining talent is harder than ever. Yet high turnover doesn’t have to be business as usual, and some brands have even significantly reduced their turnover in the past few months simply by rethinking the employee experience.
“Foodservice went from having a dedicated labor pool so operators could sort through applications for the best fit to not being able to even staff a restaurant,” says John Poulos, president of DiscoverLink, a learning management system (LMS) and content provider which recently joined forces with CrunchTime, makers of well-known back-of-house software for managing everything from scheduling to inventory. “We’re now competing against other industries for talent, and we have to rethink how we’re addressing staff development and turnover.”
By simply reconfiguring high-impact facets of the employee experience, such as scheduling and—most importantly—training, Poulos says restaurants can significantly reduce turnover. “In the past, restaurants really focused on the first 30 days, but now we need to focus on getting new employees past the first seven or 14 days,” he says. “The easiest way to do that is to keep team members engaged by assessing and improving their skills, putting them in the right roles, refining communication, and showing them you’re investing in their career development, all of which you can do with a learning management system, like CrunchTime! TalentLink.”
Reducing turnover by improving training and team development may sound too simple, but it actually generates major results. Poulos says that DiscoverLink regularly sees restaurants reduce their turnover by 25-35 percent simply by implementing its online training programs.
Unlike many LMS solutions, TalentLink isn’t just a checklist of training to complete, nor is it solely computer-based training. Instead, TalentLink combines its CrunchTime! MainCourse library, which includes a broad range of training content, with training programs customized for the individual brand. Best of all, TalentLink can combine the convenience and simplicity of e-learning with video lessons and side-by-side learning exercises with trainers, talent development programs, and metrics to track the efficacy of training programs. The result of combining all these features is a streamlined training program that boosts employee productivity, confidence, and morale.
Just ask Kevin Karnes, director of training for the 217-unit Kentucky-based pasta brand Fazoli’s, which has used both DiscoverLink and CrunchTime software separately for about five years prior to CrunchTime’s acquisition of DiscoverLink. While CrunchTime helps the brand with scheduling and inventory management, among other tasks, DiscoverLink has allowed Karnes’s team to vastly improve employee turnover through training.
Though Fazoli’s already had a robust training program featuring e-learning courses, the brand decided to refresh it about a year ago. Now, the program focuses on hybridized digital and in-person training featuring a digital workbook, peer trainers, and what Karnes calls “micro-training” videos.
“Previously, one of our courses was 30 minutes long, but we found that keeping our employees stationery for so long with no physical interaction made them lose interest,” Karnes says. “Now, we want our lessons to feel like a short YouTube or TikTok video and to last less than two and a half minutes. After an employee watches the video, we have them try what they just learned while partnering with a trainer. And because TalentLink works on mobile devices, our employees can access that digital content anytime they need a refresher.”
So far, the results have been promising. Karnes says that since the new program rolled out, employees rated their satisfaction with the program at 4.9 out of 5 points. Additionally, training time was significantly reduced. Fazoli’s 30-day training report, which measures how much of an employee’s training was completed within their first 30 days on the job, went from 66 percent to 95 percent and is projected to be at 100 percent for all stores within three weeks.
“We firmly believe that if you train someone right within 30 days, they are a lot more likely to stick around for the next 30 days or longer,” Karnes says. “People just want to know how to do their jobs, and unfortunately, we live in a world where we have to get them up to speed as quickly as possible. If you don't train someone right, that actually causes a lot of frustration that can lead newer employees to quit. Since we’ve improved our training, we’ve seen our staffing levels improve dramatically.”
Karnes says his ultimate goal is to make training as easy as possible for Fazoli’s managers, trainers, and team members. Now that DiscoverLink is a CrunchTime company, he is excited to further streamline his team’s training and back-of-house operations with the integration of both pieces of software into a single platform. Single sign-on has already been implemented between the two platforms, and Poulos says operators can expect to see the TalentLink LMS integrated into the CrunchTime platform in a new version releasing this summer.
“The data from these two solutions shows leaders what’s happening in a restaurant on a day-to-day basis,” Poulos says. “By combining them into a single platform, operators can begin to see ways they can impact or improve labor, inventory, and scheduling or where there are opportunities for learning and development. Investing in training is investing in people, and the organizations that are committed to learning and development and drive it from the top down are the ones that are the most successful.”
To learn more about how CrunchTime can help your restaurant, visit the CrunchTime website.
By Peggy Carouthers