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3 Key Training Elements That Motivate Restaurant Employees

Posted by Michael Holland

Mar 23 2017
Mar 23 2017

Interactivity, gamification, and competition engage Millennials and Gen Z.

All restaurant operators face the challenge of sufficiently engaging their employees, particularly during training. New employees might show up on Day One bright-eyed and ready to go, but in the restaurant world, the job is often more complicated than many people believe. Even the most well-intentioned new team member can be somewhat intimidated by all the required training—which can result in disengagement.

It may go without saying, but making training interesting and engaging is one of the best ways of connecting with employees. But when the goal of your training program is to transmit as much complex information to a new hire as quickly as possible to get the person onto the floor, who has time to make training fun? Fun training may require more forethought in the development stages, but the pay-off in terms of a more focused, committed team, resulting in more consistent quality and a better customer experience, will benefit your bottom line.





Learning experts tell us that active learning, in which trainees must do something—make a choice, evaluate a scenario, participate in a dialogue—are highly effective at both engaging a learner audience and ensuring that training concepts stick. Interactivity can be introduced in training in one-on-one and group sessions through brainstorming and problem-solving scenarios or fun, fast-paced Q&A sessions. But these days, interactive learning implies use of a computer or mobile device. Not only is this more cost-effective and less time-consuming, but it’s what most learners prefer today. Research indicates that nearly 70% of Millennial and Gen Z workers prefer to learn using a computer as opposed to videos or paper manuals. So leading restaurant chains build interactivity into their training modules. The very best incorporate gamification.



Interactivity and gamification are closely connected. Gamification is the application of game-like features to training content to make it more entertaining and engaging for the learner. In gamified training modules, learners interact with the content in fast-paced, game-like settings and attempt to quickly and correctly solve a problem or answer a question. Learning specialists at innovative companies serving the restaurant industry have done the work for you by incorporating gamification into platforms that can be customized with content specific to your chain. Examples include virtual food preparation games and customer interaction scenarios, in which new team members can practice SOPs, reinforce training concepts, and make mistakes without risk to the business.




And of course, gamification implies competition. As new employees complete training modules successfully and move through their learning plans, the newest restaurant training platforms award virtual badges (think scouting merit badges or football helmet stickers) that graphically represent their success to managers and peers within the platform.

One new platform takes competition even further, using a “racetrack” functionality to compare—in real time—each team member’s training performance against the restaurant’s enterprise-wide employee average as well as the chain’s top 20% highest performing workers. In fact, the platform makes use of interactivity, gamification, and competition in a continuous micro-learning loop to optimize team member engagement and facilitate training for new products and limited-time offers.


Does it work? One restaurant chain implementing this platform in more than 5,000 locations added the racetrack functionality to their training suite. They very quickly saw a 42% increase in overall worker knowledge! Even their highest performing team members—those already in the top 20%—improved their scores by 17%!

A modern training and performance platform isn’t free, but the ROI they deliver can far outweigh the costs. And since an operation’s team members have the most direct, most immediate connection to guest experience, making an investment to ensure an engaging, continuous learning experience just might be one of the best capital expenditures you can make.


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