COVID HR for Restaurants

by | Mar 10, 2021 | blog, Business, Industry News, National Restaurant Consultants, Tips | 0 comments

Three businesswomen

The fallout of coronavirus has touched on every aspect of business, especially in the restaurant and hospitality industries. We must account for changes in regulations and public safety to keep our target audiences happy and our businesses thriving. 

Outward facing practices are not the only operations that need to be adjusted however, and businesses need to make sure that their internal structures are adjusting for new measures. For example, human resources need to adapt to accommodate health concerns, wages issues, as well as how to keep things working well on a bare-bones staff. And since much of a restaurant’s HR is handled by the management, it is important to have a clear picture of what might need to adjust within your operations.

Richard Weil, CEO of National Restaurant Consultants, notes, “The HR function in most restaurants are usually handled by the owner or manager and often with a low priority.  Communications is the foundation with your staff to having a positive HR process. This starts from the first interview, orientation and on-boarding, training, and ongoing feedback with all your staff with open lines of communications.”

While a smaller role within restaurants, HR processes are still very necessary. “A must for all restaurants, at the very minimum, should be harassment policies and training as well as alcohol service. Investing the time and resources to have a safe, respectful work environment for staff and guest alike is a responsibility as important as serving great food and good service in a clean and sanitary environment. HR processes reflect greatly internally and externally in your business and positive HR processes reward the operation generally with better service, and lower staff turnover,” Weil adds.

This HR Morning article by Tim McElgunn gives an excellent summary of what to be on the lookout for as far as HR changes amidst the pandemic fallout. 

Firstly, McElgunn addresses the issue of remote work. Of course, restaurants will not be running remotely, but management and HR should consider scheduling and how few employees can manage a full opening; who will manage carry-out orders and, if you include delivery, who fills those roles; how to appropriately compensate employees for fewer hours or new responsibilities; and what can be done remotely, such as payroll, scheduling, and other administrative tasks. 

McElgunn also addresses cultural issues, which could be expanded to include any number of social and emotional concerns. With stress levels running high and social tensions even higher, HR teams should be prepared to navigate more interpersonal issues.

Loosely related, talent acquisition and retention will need to take priority. Training during a financially tumultuous time is not ideal, and it is important to take care of employees who are themselves in stressful situations. Where it becomes too much for some, there will be many gaps to fill, and careful consideration should be given to how those roles are redistributed.

Weil further explains, “Most restaurants, or even smaller two to three unit regional groups, cannot afford a full time HR department. Certainly, many of payroll companies offer multiple options for HR support; but with many restaurants fighting their way back to survival as capacity constraints loosen, keeping tabs on the HR side of things can be daunting.”

But this is where a restaurant consultant can come in, both in identifying helpful resources or offering services directly. “There are many resources available at little to no cost. Network with your respective state restaurant or hospitality association, or contact National Restaurant Consultants for ways that our consultants can provide inputs and solutions for you. With everything, and especially HR, doing things ethically, fairly and always legally should never be compromised,” advises Weil. 

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