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4 key steps to maximizing success with seasonal workers

As restaurants prepare to serve hungry holiday crowds, restaurant managers also prepare to welcome a wave of seasonal employees. It's critical that restaurant locations across any brand's system know the best ways to welcome and onboard these seasonal holiday workers.

4 key steps to maximizing success with seasonal workers


By Jamie Griffin/ Good Workforce founder and principal

As restaurants prepare to serve hungry holiday crowds, restaurant managers also prepare to welcome a wave of seasonal employees. It's critical that restaurant locations across any brand's system know the best ways to welcome and onboard these seasonal holiday workers to get them up to speed quickly and into the team's operations. But, the waythis single welcoming task is handled can make the difference between a hugely stressful or tremendously successful holiday season. 

According to the National Retail Federation, retailers and restaurateurs will hire 640,000 to 690,000 seasonal workers this holiday nationally. Successful operators see this not as a time-sucking source of stress, but as a huge opportunity to make a lasting impression on the seasonal employees so integral to each site's success during what is often the busiest sales period of the year.  

How important is this and why? Well, fastcasual.com recently relayed information from a session on optimizing your labor poolat the Fast Casual Executive Summit this fall, during which industry experts recommended giving workers "a reason to connect with your culture." New workers — even those who are joining your team just for the season — bring their own values, attitudes and work ethic to your restaurant and all of these factors can greatly impact your business culture and momentum in attracting and keeping satisfied customers.

That's why it's critical to warmly welcome and thoughtfully onboard new employees in ways that create a sense of belonging within the establised culture of both your restaurant and your company overall. To achieve that goal, here are four key activities to think about before that first seasonal employee steps foot inside your door:  

1.    Plan the worker’s first day well before they arrive. Nothing makes a more negative first impression to a new worker than arriving to chaos and an uncertain schedule, without a branded uniform or schedule for their first day. Nonetheless, this happens much more than many might like to admit. Successful managers carefully plan the new workers’ first hours and days to assure the entire team is prepared to welcome new hires and set them up for success. 

2.    Consider separating human resources paperwork from the first day on the job. Completing paperwork, sitting through orientation, reviewing handbooks, and completing required training sessions can not only be dull, but quite often may not even be essential the first day. Instead, consider asking new hires to come in a few days early to complete these steps, meet their manager and other employees, obtain a uniform and ensure it's the right size. This creates space and time for more important first day activities when the employee steps in for Day One. 

3.    Create a special "first day experience" for new hires. Do not underestimate how important it is to make a new employee's first day something to celebrate, even if they are seasonal. One of the best ways to quickly assimilate and create productive new employees is through activities that help them understand the basics for performing well on their job, including restaurant walk-throughs, team introductions, important organizational cultural pillars, and basics of their new role's requirements. Go-beyond managers use small details to impress, like things as simple as a welcome sign or card from the team, as well as matching the new hire with a compatible trainer who perhaps even has common interests. 

4.    Clearly define and prepare the new hire for restaurant and organizational success:In planning first day procedures for new hires, keep in mind your first day objectives. By day's end, these new employees should be able to articulate the following: 

•    Their job role and responsibilities.
•    Managerial expectations for both job and overall restaurant success.
•    The new hire's basic plan for learning their job and becoming successful at it. 

Ideally, these three areas are communicated by each site's general manager directly, with back-up confirmation from assisting managers and trainers. The new worker should have a clear idea of what is involved in their training and when it is scheduled, as well as initial scheduling expectations. 


Good Workforce founder and Principal Jamie Griffin spent 14 years helping Raising Cane's Chicken Fingers grow into a $500M business with more than 10,000 hourly-rate employees. Good Workforce is a people advisor and technology company transforming how businesses measure and manage the world's hourly workforce to better workers’ lives and improve the bottom line.



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