Cross-Utilizing Staff: Why This Benefits You and Your Employees
Staffing a restaurant has been a hot topic in 2020, especially with most workers being out of job for weeks together because of the COVID-19 lockdown. Fortunately, these workers, along with several other unemployed individuals had help in the form of government subsidies (depending on the region) to sustain the present crisis.
As restaurants began to reopen, some of these workers didn’t see or feel the need to return to work since they were technically getting paid without having to work. This may not be the case everywhere, but it was a pain point that restaurant owners felt in Idaho Springs in mid-June.
With that being said, not only are restaurant owners struggling to turn a profit due to reduced seating in their establishments; they are also having issues finding/hiring reliable staff.
So how do restaurants manage these different working conditions, especially if they have less number of staff? In order to keep the costs of staffing overhead down, we recommend implementing cross-training for your staff.
Cross-training staff is the concept of training staff complying with multiple operational areas of your restaurant or bar. By implementing cross-training for your staff, you are creating added efficiencies for your organization that will help not only you but your employees as well.
Why is it Important to Have Cross-Trained Staff in Your Restaurant?
As previously mentioned, in addition to improved efficiencies for your operations, cross-training also immensely saves costs. That being said, right now, every little bit helps. Cross-training your staff allows you to utilize one or more staff members in multiple areas during a shift which will definitely come handy, here’s why:
Contingency – Say, a bartender calls in sick for their shift, things like these do happen but then it increases difficulties for your restaurant, especially in the case of reduced staff. This is where cross-training plays a vital role – every set of hands helps. So, if you had a server scheduled for the same shift that was trained on the bar, that employee can be transferred to that empty shift without any issues. With other cross-trained staff on the same shift, they can each jump in and assist in the areas that need help, such as bussing tables, hosting, etc.
Adaptability – Trained staff handling multiple tasks around the restaurant would always be on the ready, any time you ask them to handle anything. Let us take the case of a slower seated lunch hour with more than enough servers working, but your takeout and delivery requests are off the charts and your kitchen staff are struggling. Why not utilize the servers that don’t have tables to serve to, take up their places the kitchen to help relieve the bottleneck and assist in prepping or packaging?
Appreciation – This has been a difficult time for everyone, and those who are working have been working harder than ever to make it through. With that said, employers who cross-train their employees are investing in their staff and equipping them to work more efficiently. This also makes staff feel valued and the ability to work more hours in different areas of the restaurant.
Cross-training staff also gives your team a chance to understand everyone’s part and that all areas, regardless of their level & roles, be it, front-end, back-end, central or any other, all have their pros and cons – this allows team members to appreciate each other and the importance of each role.
Staff Shortages and How Cross-Training Will Help Your Bottom Line
Overall, cross-training your staff will increase your restaurant’s productivity, even with minimum staff. For example, say you have a dishwasher who is experiencing downtime in the kitchen. Aside from slight uniform differences, this employee can easily go on the floor to bus tables, clean and sanitize before the next group or rush comes through. Having worked in the dish pit, this employee is also aware of levels of cleanliness and the expectations that need to be met. Therefore, instead of having 2 people on staff, you can utilize 1 multi-tasking two jobs.
With the shortage of staff as well, cross-training will help in minimizing stress and pressure among managers and the staff who are wanting to work. If someone calls in or quits, you still feel confident that your well-trained staff can complete the shift without hiccups or struggles. Also, with more cross-trained staff, you will need lesser staff on the roster, allowing you to pick those who are efficient and mesh well together, all while reducing your overhead which helps cut costs and is also positive at the bottom line.
Tips for Cross-Training Your Staff
When training staff, regardless of if it’s their first training session or being cross-trained in another area or aspect, it is important to set reasonable expectations and introduce them to a positive culture that is shared amongst the team. However, when it comes to cross-training there are some things to consider, here are a few tips to help get you started:
- Communicate to your staff the importance of teamwork and foster mutual respect & support.
- Make sure each employee has someone who can step into their role. This offers contingency in case someone calls in sick for a shift.
- Stage mock scenarios to ensure that your staff are cross-trained enough to take on the responsibilities of all of their roles.
- Choose the right people to be cross-trained. This cannot be stressed enough! Be sure that the employee is driven, a team player and is reliable.
- Offer an open door policy to your employees to offer feedback and ask questions.
As you can see, cross-training your staff can offer your restaurant numerous opportunities and benefits. It is a strategy that will help you now and in the future – advancing your team and encouraging them to work well together, like a well-oiled machine.
For more information or questions about cross-training your staff, please reach out to your local Lekhwar Hospitality consultant. During this time we want to help you succeed, so reach out, even if it’s for a friendly chat.