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Overcoming staff challenges with training

Photograph: Shutterstock

When restaurant employees aren’t properly trained, the chorus of workers saying things such as “I didn’t know,” “That’s not how I was shown” or “Nobody told me I had to do it that way” can be overwhelming. The excuses seem endless, the frustration is massive and the results can be dangerous or even deadly. But there is a way to reduce frustrations and keep employees and guests safe, and that solution is an effective training program.

Challenges such as high employee turnover, confusing products and complicated procedures can make it difficult to effectively train restaurant employees. Everyone has different levels of experience and understanding, and managers cannot assume everyone knows the proper way to use a given cleaning product. A strong training program can ensure accuracy and consistency with proper procedures and the correct use of cleaning chemicals.

Training will also help keep employees and customers safe. While an employee may think they understand proper chemical use and how to wear protective gear, cleaning a restaurant is not intuitive. In other words, common sense does not equal common practice. There is no such thing as common sense when it comes to safety, proper cleaning and disinfection in a public space. Managers should always proceed as if employees don’t know what to do or what the protocols are. This will reduce mistakes when cleaning, such as unintentionally mixing dangerous chemicals.

A strong training program can also help reduce direct operating expenses. Knowing exactly how much of a chemical to use and when to use it will result in less waste, and restaurants can then maintain product levels and regulate ordering schedules for cost management.

Effective training methods

There is no gray area when it comes to training and expectations for cleaning procedures. Managers should be consistent in their message and model their expected behavior for employees, showing the importance of training and following proper procedures in their actions, not just their words.

One option is implementing a five-step training system, such as the “Why Do, How Do, I Do, We Do, You Do” program. It not only addresses the “how-tos” of a particular task (including demonstrations, practice, testing and clear roles of who does what), but it also explains how that task fits into the restaurant’s overall goals, which can help eliminate confusion and excuses. When adapted to all the tasks in a restaurant, the employee will feel more connected to their work and their role in the success of the business.

However, training works only if the employees are following through on and actually completing tasks, so managers should enforce the consistent use of checklists, allowing for check-ins to ensure the work is being done and by whom, so corrections can be made in real time and help ensure Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) standards are maintained.

Regularly recognizing employees who are caught doing something right can also help reinforce good behavior and the importance of following procedures. Running contests and offering rewards to employees will encourage and support good habits and practices.

Choosing the right manufacturer of cleaning chemicals can also help streamline training and simplify usage. For example, P&G Professional has a wealth of training and information through its free PGP University platform, with training videos and knowledge checks. These materials, available in English and Spanish, in combination with the brand’s trusted, familiar products, help employers offer a comprehensive training program with easy-to-use products that results in less confusion.

When every experience counts, an effective training program can narrow the gap between good and great restaurants while keeping everyone safe and ensuring consistency in the results.

This post is sponsored by P&G Professional

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