Restaurants, like human beings, can always grow and improve. And the best way for restaurant businesses to improve is when their individual employees are continually learning and growing. That is why it's so critical for your restaurant to constantly facilitate a learning culture, a place where employees are encouraged to explore and pursue knowledge and excellence.
Today's young workforce craves information and innovation, and are constantly on the lookout for ways to progress, personally and professionally. And information is more readily available than ever before. Online search engines and video platforms provide answers to just about every question, and employees are looking for this experience more and more in their workplaces as well.
Here are three ways to harness that powerful drive and desire to learn for the benefit of your restaurant business and culture:
Utilize multiple forms of learning
Everyone learns in different ways--some prefer reading, others prefer watching, some prefer presenting, and still others prefer getting their hands dirty. Make sure you enlist all of these methods so that no employees are left out. You can start off by giving your employees a quick learning styles survey to see what their strengths and preferred styles are.
Then keep these styles in mind as you consider how to use technology to impart important training information. You can make audiobooks or videos, or even interactive media available for employees may refer to anytime.
One of the most important characteristics of a successful restaurant is a team that collaborates well together. Instead of using the old classroom-style training method in which one teacher instructs a group of learners, see each employee as both learner and teacher. People tend to better retain information that they share and teach, and modern technology makes it increasingly easy for all employees share insights, remind each other of proper procedure, and interact positively.
You can group your employees into small teams based on their learning styles: the employee who learns by watching can work with the hands-on employee. The employee who learns by speaking can talk to the audio learner. You can choose to either emphasize each employees' strengths or challenge them to shore up their known weaknesses. And as you do so, you can build a sense of team spirit and camaraderie among employees that will serve them well as they interact with clients on a day to day basis.
To make the enterprise more fun, you can "gamify" the process, finding ways to include a little friendly competition, small prizes and awards, or peer recognition for employees who reach a certain goal, or employees who are particularly helpful to others, to provide a little extra motivation and fun as everyone learns together.
Lead by example
The best way to promote a culture of learning is to do so by example. Restaurant business leaders should show employees that they value continual learning by themselves continuing to learn. Those who are leaders should demonstrate their commitment to learning by talking about new trends and concepts they discover, soliciting the staff for their ideas and opinions about how the work is going, talking to customers to find out more about what customers expect and want, and so on and so forth.
When staff see that their employers and leaders are taking learning seriously, they too will be encouraged to work on becoming better employees, bringing the entire restaurant culture up a notch or two.
Learning is a never-ending business, but one which can be extremely rewarding. Not only will a strong learning culture increase the personal abilities of each employee that participates earnestly in the process, it will also increase the overall profitability of the restaurant as employees put their learning to use and customers respond to their efforts. For more information on how your restaurant can begin modernizing and driving employee engagement, see our newest guide, Restaurants are Using Modern Learning to Drive Innovation.