Many businesses have found the practical benefits of creating a formal employee handbook as a way to codify their company’s mission and values, as well as to communicate their expectations for how their employees should perform their jobs. Employee handbooks provide detailed information and are indispensable for onboarding new hires. They also provide the organization some measure of legal protection from potential employee lawsuits.
Why is an employee handbook important for restaurants?
An employee handbook is especially useful in the restaurant industry to assist in hiring, onboarding and retaining employees. And with an average 75% turnover rate, employee retention is more important than ever for restaurants.
A restaurant employee handbook can serve as a common point of reference for communicating your restaurant’s mission, values, rules, regulations, policies, procedures, and guidelines. It helps to align all your staff to a common purpose, which builds better relationships and can lower turnover rates. It also informs your employees on internal operations and ensures they know how to properly conduct themselves at work.
What information should you include in an employee handbook?
While every restaurant is different, there are some common topics that should be included in your particular employee handbook.
Your introduction should include a welcome message from the owner with a brief history of the restaurant and a high-level vision statement. Since most employees will never sit down and read their handbook from cover to cover, you may want to set it up to be used as a reference manual. This way employees are able to quickly find answers to questions as they arise. You should also include an index or table of contents to help employees quickly find the information they need when they need it. You may choose to distribute it to your staff both as a printed version and electronically so they can access it on their phones. You can then link the various headings to each section for even faster reference.
Mission Statement and Core Values
A restaurant’s mission statement includes more than just selling food, but how you want to impact your world and how you want them to perceive you. For this reason, it’s extremely important to make sure your employees thoroughly understand it. A good mission statement should be concise, easy to understand, inspiring and actionable. It’s one of the ways you can differentiate yourself from your competition.
Your core values should support your mission statement in some tangible and practical ways. This is where you can link how creating delicious food and feeding people fit in to your overall mission.
Employee Code of Conduct
This section will clearly identify the expectations you have for each employee. It’s important to tie this section back to your mission statement and core values. This will help employees better understand the reasons for your policies. Refrain from making your employee handbook sound like a list of rules and regulations. The voice and tone should be casual, positive and encouraging.
This section should contain all areas of employee behavior and appearance while at work. You will want to include specific dress codes and consider other aspects of employee appearance such as piercings, tattoos, hair length etc. You may want to add pictures for clarity.
You should also include attendance policies and instructions for calling in sick, or trading shifts, and the use of personal items on the job such as smartphones. Remember, everything here should be consistent with, and connect back to, the core values and mission of the business.
Pay and Benefits
This section will arguably be the most important section from your employees’ viewpoint. As a restaurant, you’ll want to include all the details around your policies on declaring and dispersing tips. You will also want to provide specifics about overtime, holiday pay, sick leave and vacation days along with your break time and meal policies.
Additionally, this section should include information on any benefits your company offers, such as insurance plans, 401k or other retirement program, and an employee stock purchase plan if applicable.
Operational Policies and Procedures
This section can serve as a catch-all for a wide range of general and procedural information, including scheduling, training, maintenance duties, open and close procedures, cash drawer policies, safety and health policies, and emergency procedures.
Harassment Complaint Procedures
Because of the legal implications and consequences involved in any form of harassment, it’s wise to assign an entire section specifically for this purpose. Start by defining exactly what constitutes harassment. This should be comprehensive and include all forms of harassment such as verbal, physical, or sexual, etc. You will want to consult with your lawyer or other legal authority to make sure your descriptions and terms are accurate. You should also make it clear that no type of harassment will be tolerated, and exactly what the consequences for such behavior will be.
As with any type of informational manual, a conclusion or brief wrap-up helps to re-affirm the mission statement and to encourage and remind the employees of how important a role they play in the organization. This serves as a logical bookend for the overall purpose of an employee handbook.
It’s also a good place to put your Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ). This section will likely need to be updated regularly as new questions arise. A robust FAQ section can alleviate a lot of stress and extra time spent by your HR team answering the same questions for multiple employees. Make sure to index and organize this section by topic or alphabetically so employees can easily locate answers to their specific questions.
Developing an employee handbook from scratch is not an easy task. Paycor’s HR Center of Excellence is a great source for templates, sample job descriptions, useful checklists, law alerts and more. And solutions such as Onboarding and Learning Management can help integrate your handbook into the hiring and training processes as well.
A restaurant’s success depends on the quality of its food and the character of its employees. Your employee handbook lays the foundation to inspire and motivate your workforce to live out your company’s core values, so be sure you invest the time and effort to make it the best it can be.