Smooth, clear, and instant employee communication is essential for restaurant owners and their staff.
Restaurateurs need to ensure their team is communicating with each other openly and positively – whether on the floor or while orchestrating a shift swap.
In this article, we'll be discussing the best employee communication tools and protocols. That way, you can reach your staff where they are and keep your team productive.
Remember: whatever your restaurant employee communication tool is, make sure you document the process and best practices in your restaurant employee handbook.
Communication Trends: How Are People Talking in 2017?
Did you know that the average person touches their smartphone 2,617 times per day?
Our mobile devices are our memo pads, our alarm clocks, our radios, and above all, they’re what keeps us connected to others. 77% of Americans now own a smartphone, and rely on it as their main method of communication.
Studies show that 8.5 billion text messages are sent every day in the United States, and an estimated 18.7 billion around the world. These figures are vast, but they shouldn't be surprising. When you stop to think about how dependent we all are upon mobile devices on a daily basis, it quickly starts to make sense.
So, why not use this to your advantage? And how does this apply to business?
According to a study released on eWeek, 80% of people are currently using mobile communication methods for business.
If chatting or messaging as a way of communicating with your restaurant’s employees interests you, read on for some best practices to help choose your medium, determine your approach, and set expectations to ensure a positive experience for your entire workforce.
Tip #1: Use a Work-Specific Medium
Your employees don’t want to join yet another Facebook group in order to receive information from work.
It’s difficult for important details to cut through Facebook’s endless digital noise. Plus, with Facebook groups, governance can be a challenge – you may run the risk of having an employee leave the restaurant, but still remain within the group.
It’s also worth nothing that your employees and management team members may not wish to use their personal social media accounts with everyone they work with.
Also, who is even on Facebook anymore?
Luckily, other options exist.
Work-specific employee communication tools are an emerging solution impacting not just restaurants. Options like Slack are overtaking offices around the nation thanks to work-specific communication conducted over a immediate, chat-style interface. Software choices like this speak to both business owners and their employees and improve productivity.
By using restaurant scheduling software that offers in-app chat functions (see image), you’ll have access to a work-specific space for employee group chats and one-on-one conversations to occur within, as well as the ability to send announcements to keep the entire team up to speed.
You’ll be able to easily control who’s in or out of the group, monitor any instances of abuse, and send messages arrive instantaneously to your employees’ smartphones — all while their personal information remain private and stored securely within the app.
Tip #2: Avoid Miscommunication
It’s always a good idea to set out some ground rules within your employee communication tools, since things can be misconstrued when sent via text-only methods.
To steer clear of miscommunication mishaps, Harvard Business Review recommends that employees envision the message’s recipient actually receiving the message. It’s the “put yourself in someone else’s shoes” adage brought into the digital age. So, before hitting “send,” employees should consider whether this is the type of message they’d be happy to receive, and only proceed if the answer is a confident, “yes!” This is best practice for both digital and in-person communication.
For example: a little extra detail can go a long way towards ensuring a message comes through as intended.
When text-based messages arrive, they are devoid of the human emotion and social cues we depend on when speaking face to face. While a “Ya. OK.” text might be sent with the best intentions, a “Yeah, that sounds good. I’ll be able to take that shift.” text would remove ambiguity and be more helpful than a vague reply.
On the flip side, the message recipient isn’t without responsibility. The burden is on them to ask for clarification if a message leaves them puzzled, and to avoid making assumptions about what a message could mean.
Encourage the entire team to exchange supportive, clear messages, and you’ll see the benefits: an uptick in engagement and an informed, unified workforce.
Tip #3: Set Expectations
Among the top reasons millennials prefer texts as "their" mode of communication is speed of use. According to OpenMarket, 83% of millennials open messages within 90 seconds of receiving them.
But not everyone is the statistical millennial — some people read and reply when they are available and able to, not immediately.
A good guideline is to ask that employees respond to each other promptly, even if only to say that they’ll respond in detail later. When dealing with time-sensitive interactions like shift swaps or sick-day coverage, response time matters.
Again, it’s a “think of the other person” situation, as most employees will find themselves looking for a shift replacement at one time or another — how long would they want to be left waiting for a reply or acknowledgment?
Consider setting a standard maximum turnaround time — for example, 4–6 hours or 1 business day — to give employees peace of mind that their message will be replied to.
Optimizing Employee Communication in Your Restaurant
Work-specific messaging tools can help streamline restaurant operations, and the sheer speed of the media will yield time savings and will improve staff accountability.
As devices become more and more embedded into our everyday lives, it’s worthwhile to explore their potential for simplifying communication in your restaurant. Now that you’re armed with some guidelines, why not give work-specific, mobile employee communication tools a try in your restaurant?
If the employee communication system you use is crucial to your operations, make sure to specifically highlight it in your restaurant employee handbook. Don't have one? Download a template for free below!