June 19, 2020

Best practices for welcoming your staff back to your restaurant

Equip your employees with the right PPE. When specifying gloves, make sure they’re easy to pull on and off.

With states beginning to reopen after months of lockdown, the restaurant industry is reemerging with rules that are far different than those they had pre-pandemic.

The coronavirus turned the hospitality world on its head, and with cases still on the rise in many areas, it’s more important than ever to show both employees and customers that your establishment is not going back to business as usual.

Restaurant staffers speaking out in online forums have expressed concerns over returning to work and how it might expose them. What can you do to make employees’ return to work and transition into the new workflow as comfortable as possible?

Implement practices to keep establishment clean and staff healthy

Restaurants must have a clear set of policies in place to protect employees while they work.

Increase the frequency with which you sanitize touchpoints such as doorknobs, tablets, POS keypads, bathroom amenities, railings, etc. Assign a specific employee this duty every shift; if it’s “everyone’s job” it might become “someone else’s job”.

Reduce the amount of contact between staff and customers

Include clear signage directing customers to waiting areas and setting clear capacity limits; putting a number to call on signs for curbside pickup; marking tables as unavailable; and other precise directions that will reduce confusion among guests and staff.

Other practices such as mobile ordering, accessing mobile menus through smartphones, having customers box their own leftovers, and ensuring guests wear masks while waiting for food indoors and out are also great ways to reduce contact between people in the restaurant.

Provide staff with all necessary tools and equipment

Providing staff with comfortable masks (take a survey; do they want cloth or paper?), face shields (if they can’t wear masks), and gloves will ensure that they have the proper protective equipment at all times.

Stash boxes of fresh gloves in places they’re most needed, near tablets, drink stations, and the register. Purchase gloves that are easy to pull on and off; if they’re too hard to pull on, employees might avoid them.

Set out ample supplies of hand sanitizer throughout the establishment as well as plenty of cleaning supplies near enough to the dining areas to make practicing good hygiene and table sanitation convenient.

Train, train, retrain

An informed staff is a healthy staff. Training employees on these new policies and practices is essential to keeping your staff safe. Everyone should be familiar with new safety measures being taken as well as familiarized with the new layout of the establishment.

Practices such as curbside service, contactless payment systems, and sanitation practices will be new to returning employees and managers should go over everything in detail to make sure these services run as smoothly as possible.

Re-training on basics such as how and how often to wash hands is more critical than ever. If you’ve added new handwashing stations, point them out.

As customers return, some will follow the new rules, others won’t. What training can you provide to help staff members navigate the “emotional” aspects of dining out again? Do your employees know what to do if a guest gets feisty or rude about following the rules?

These steps will make staff feel more comfortable and empowered in the new routine and ensure everyone is on the same page.