How Much Time and Money Should You Spend Training a Staff that is Probably About to Walk Out the Door?

>> Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Today we have a guest post by Tim Smith that is geared towards recruiters and how they manage and handle turnover at their organization. For more on Tim, please visit his site, What Do You Want From Them. 

photo by OPUS Hotel

It’s a dilemma the industry has been grappling with since quick-service restaurants spread around the world and the turnover rate broke the 200% barrier, and no one has found the right answer yet. Will additional training really keep staff and managers from jumping ship? Are employees leaving in droves because of the fact that management is so poor? If you train managers too well, won’t they inevitably strike out on their own? The chicken and the egg strikes again.

But lately, companies like Wendy’s and Burger King have taken the plunge and instituted comprehensive training programs for their restaurant managers and staff. No numbers were available in Burger King’s case, but Wendy’s saw their crew turnover rate fall to an unheard of 141% in 2002. Their assistant manager turnover rate also fell by 3%, from 26% to 23%, and their general manager rate fell from 17% to 13%. They attributed these impressive statistics to their People Excellence program, a training program that rewarded fast and accurate service.

Unfortunately, statistics from recent years are hard to come by, but a case can be made that programs like People Excellence pay for themselves in short order with increased productivity and a corresponding increase in sales. (Sales for the quarter rose 2.5%.) That may be an erroneous correlation, but it’s well founded that keeping the turnover rate down lowers training costs in the long run and keeps employees happy, which in turn leads to increased customer satisfaction and retention.

Another debate raging in the industry concerns the reasons restaurant staff leave a given location. How much does the manager have to do with it? Again, evidence is anecdotal, but the general consensus seems to be that bad management is a leading cause of employee departures. This is especially true in the restaurant industry, where interaction with management is relatively constant, whereas in the computer software industry, an employee might go a week without any meaningful contact with their manager.

This highlights the need for quick-service restaurants to bite the bullet and spend the money up front for leadership training for their management staff. There’s ample evidence to indicate that employees will stay with a job, even if it pays less than they believe they deserve, if they get along particularly well with the management. Leadership helps form the bonds that turn a staff of employees into a well-oiled machine.

Some restaurants have taken this approach to extremes, jumping on the team metaphor as if it were a lifeline, but a highly scripted team environment can suffocate both the management and the staff and prevent the managers from using their natural leadership abilities.

Quick service restaurant training is a constantly evolving process that eludes HR departments even today. But with the success of Burger King and Wendy’s team-building and productivity enhancing programs, perhaps more restaurants will finally decide that a little money spent up front is worth the potentially greater results down the road.

Article courtesy of the Recruiting Blogswap, a content exchange service sponsored by, a leading site for college students looking for internships and recent graduates searching for entry level jobs and other career opportunities.


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