Thursday, September 10, 2015

Restaurant Tip of the Month

Tip #6: Employee Manual


There are several reasons why creating an employee manual is critical to your restaurant's success. This document is home to your specific restaurant policies, local and federal laws, employment standards and working procedures for all areas of the restaurant. 

Enhance Professionalism

The employee handbook shows your staff that you are serious about your restaurant, and more importantly, their performance. You have taken time to create it and your staff needs to take serious time to read and understand it. 

Answer Employee Questions Before They Ask 

Many employees want to know what they need to do and how to do it. A good employee handbook will cover this, so you will spend less time answering the same questions over and over. 

Improve Employee Confidence  

Restaurant employees do better work when they are confident of their job requirements and the specific procedures. This translates to better customer service as well. 

Elevate Level of Consistency 

When you have the policies written out, you can consistently train every employee. Conversely, if you need to take disciplinary action with someone, the employee handbook gives you written documentation of procedures in case of any messy legal action. 

Writing the Employee Handbook

Here are a few tips for writing the employee handbook that will make it as useful as possible for your restaurant staff: 

1) Write Multilingual Handbooks

     - If necessary, make up employee handbooks in different languages to accommodate any native English speakers on your restaurant staff. 

2) Write So Employees Can Understand

     - No need to write the employee handbook in unfamiliar jargon or legal terms. Write simply and clearly so any of your employees can understand it. After all, they are your main audience. 

3) Produce Specialized Handbooks

     - Depending on your restaurant, you may find that handbooks for every type of employee make the most sense. In full service establishments, job descriptions can be very different and may require separate policies and procedures. Limited or quick service restaurants often function just fine with one universal employee handbook. 

4) Add Information As Needed

     - New situations come up, and you may need to make additions to your handbook in order to cover procedures that you feel are important enough to be in the handbook. To avoid publishing new handbooks every time this happens, print off the new procedures and hand out copies with the next round of employee handbooks. \

Essential Components of an Employee Handbook 

All employee handbooks will look slightly different due to variances in concept, layout, service type, location, hours, and specific policies enforced by the owner or manager. Despite differences in content, the following components are important in any restaurant employee handbook. 

1) Disclaimer and Acknowledgement

      - The disclaimer and acknowledgment section of your restaurant's employee handbook establishes that employees have read and understand the policies, procedures, expectations, and benefits outlined in the handbook. It also asserts that the handbook does not act as an employment contract. This is especially important for states with "at-will" employment laws, which are laws delineating that an employment relationship can be terminated at any time, by the employer or employee, without cause or liability. 

2) Employment Policies

     - A section on hiring policies helps outline any state laws that apply to interviewing, hiring and otherwise bringing people to work in the restaurant. An employee handbook needs to cover any applicable state or federal employment law, including the commitment to Equal Opportunity Employment. Handbooks may also include information on the following: 

  • Recruiting

  • Interviewing

  • Applications

  • Background checking

  • Find and hire the right people

  • Termination


3) Work Hours and Payroll 

      - In  this section, discuss any labor laws that were not covered in the previous section, and to outline the expectations and procedures for employees while on the job. Include the following concepts, tailored to your restaurant: 

  • Labor Laws

  • Payroll

  • Scheduling

  • Breaks

  • Tip Reporting

  • Workers' Compensation 


4) Benefits

     - Employees want to know what benefits they are entitled to while employed at your restaurant. Make sure they are aware of any of the following benefits your restaurant offers: 

  • Employee meals

  • Time off

  • Holidays

  • Sick days

  • Vacation time

  • Overtime

  • Bereavement

  • Maternity leave

  • Jury duty

  • Insurance and 401K


5) Appearance Standards

     - Be sure to identify the proper uniform and appearance standards for every job position in your restaurant. This includes the following: 

  • Shoes

  • Uniforms

  • Hair

  • Facial hair

  • Nails

  • Jewelry

  • Tattoos

  • Piercings


6) Behavior Expectations and Policies

     - It is essential that a restaurant handbook define acceptable and inappropriate behaviors in the restaurant. When employees know their expectations and their limits, there will be fewer problems in the workplace. >> More on Employee Discipline and Rewards Systems

  • Teamwork

  • Customer service

  • Evaluations

  • Rewards and discipline

  • Conflict resolution


7) Cash Handling Policies and Procedures 

     - Many restaurant employees will be handling cash while at work, either as a server, bartender, or cashier. Having cash handling policies in place will help instruct employees on the proper way to handle money to minimize loss and maximize security and accuracy. >> More on Cash Handling Practices for Restaurants

8) Operating Procedures

     - This section of the employee handbook includes any operational procedures that you feel are necessary to communicate to your employees. This can include opening and closing procedures, proper ways of operating equipment or supplies, special safety procedures and service guidelines. Generally, the more details you provide in this section, the better.

9) Harassment Policy   

     - Have a stringent policy on workplace harrassment. Provide information about sexual harassment and other forms of workplace harassment, as well as instruction on how to avoid it, how to identify it, and how to report it. You may want to include a statement of acknowledgment for every employee to sign, stating that they have read and understand the no-harassment policy. These can be kept in employee files. 

10) Drug and Alcohol Policy

       - Drug and alcohol abuse can occur in any restaurant. Not only is it harmful to the employee, but it can be dangerous to those around him or her. Be sure your policies are clearly defined. This especially applies to restaurants that serve alcohol and allow employees to drink after their shifts have ended. 

11) Health and Safety

      - Keeping your restaurant staff safe on the job should be your highest priority. Be sure to provide consistent, thorough training to all employees through regular staff safety meetings and on-the-job coaching. Have proper labels and posters in place to remind employees of hazardous chemicals or potentially dangerous procedures. 

12) Emergency Procedures

       - In the event of an extreme weather emergency, power outage or burglary, your restaurant staff needs to be prepared with the proper precautions and procedures. Educate your staff about the importance of awareness and security when it comes to crisis situations. >> More on Restaurant Emergency Procedures

13) Company Property and Equipment

       - Some restaurant employees have access to computers, vehicles, or other equipment belonging to the restaurant. Make sure that employees are aware that they need to respect restaurant property of all types. 



Make sure to look for Tip #7 next month..."Choosing, Leasing, Maintaining Equipment"  

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