The industry has been steadily adding new, younger workers. How should brands train them? 

Federal data shows that the restaurant industry lost approximately 6 million jobs in spring 2020. Since then, restaurant operators have struggled to fully staff restaurants. 

However, recent jobs reports show that the restaurant industry is steadily regaining the employees it lost all at once in 2020. There’s an interesting layer to this: those taking jobs in the restaurant industry aren’t exactly the same ones who left. 

A recent New York Times’ story examined the trend of members of Gen Z taking the jobs once occupied by millennials and Gen Xers. Many of these Gen Zers have never held a job before, let alone one in the restaurant space. Their relative inexperience, in addition to their preferred modes of learning, mean that different types of training may be required. 

“The demographics of frontline workers are changing drastically,” says Rachael Nemeth, the CEO of Opus, a mobile-based training platform for frontline workers. “That has big implications when it comes to training. The younger generations are demanding more flexibility, and content that they find engaging. Restaurants have to adjust accordingly.” 

Here’s a look at some other restaurant training trends to look out for in 2023. 

Tech-Based Training

In a recent QSR magazine article about the future of quick-service, experts consistently cited technology as the number one thing to watch in 2023. Since the outset of the pandemic, tech-driven innovation has helped restaurants increase employee efficiency, and sales. 

However, as Nemeth points out, much of that innovation has been focused on the customer experience—think online ordering, or drive-thru technology. Employee-focused tech is an area that has lagged behind, Nemeth says, predicting that will soon change. 

“Brands are finding that things like an upgraded POS system aren’t the only types of tech that produce ROI,” Nemeth says. “Restaurants are people-oriented businesses, and so I think that in 2023, you’re going to see more and more restaurants investing in technologies for their employees—not just for their customers.” 

Data-Driven Training

Many brands may have been reluctant to digitize training because they aren’t convinced the ROI will be immediate and tangible. Thanks to the advent of a new generation of training platforms, that’s beginning to change, Nemeth says, pointing toward Opus as a great example of a mobile-based training app that shows brands exactly what they are getting better at and how it’s affecting the bottom line. 

“Restaurant businesses traditionally have had a lack of good data when it comes to their training program,” Nemeth says. “But brands want to know: how efficient is my team? How quickly are sales growing because of my team? We’re starting to see more brands demanding better technology and data.”  

Building Engaging Content 

Perhaps the biggest difference between a Gen Zer and a millennial is that the former came of age when smartphones and social media were ubiquitous. That means the average Gen Zer is more accustomed to screen-based learning. This is an area where even some digital learning management systems lag behind, Nemeth says. 

“Building engaging content is a massive opportunity that is overlooked by legacy technology but is in everyday conversations at restaurants,” Nemeth says. “You may have the best technology in the world, but if it’s hard to build, then your team will never see it. What if content were easy to build, easy to access, and easy to get feedback on from the very people who use it? A virtuous feedback loop. Wouldn’t that be a future to look forward to in the world of work?”

For more information about restaurant training trends, visit the Opus website

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