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Restaurant HR Guide: Best Practices and Solutions

The Role & Responsibilities of HR in a Restaurant

A thriving restaurant has complex needs that require a robust human resources department that props up the hard work everyone’s doing, prevents mishaps, and mitigates risk. Some common responsibilities for human resources in the restaurant industry include:

  • Processing restaurant payroll and administering benefits
  • Ensuring local, state, and federal regulation compliance
  • Creating and communicating HR policies
  • Interviewing and hiring employees
  • Building a strong restaurant culture
  • Leadership training
  • Resolving employee conflicts

Naturally, these responsibilities will vary widely depending on the size and complexity of the restaurant in question. Larger chain restaurants often have a full-fledged human resources department with separate positions for each responsibility cited above. Smaller restaurant chains may only have one person doing everything.

Privately held restaurants may designate managers or the owner to handle HR responsibilities. Some may even outsource their payroll processing and HR functions.

Restaurant HR Best Practices

Beyond the daily responsibilities, there are some best practices that apply across restaurants of all shapes and sizes:

1. Create a Culture of Transparency

Employees want to feel safe, secure, and informed at all times. HR plays a big role in making that happen. They do that by creating and maintaining an environment of trust and transparency. Doing so facilitates open communication and feedback that improves the restaurant’s ability to serve its customers.

If employees feel like all major decisions are made behind closed doors or like their input doesn’t matter, then a growing sense of distrust forms. It creates an “us” vs. “them” mentality where it feels like leadership is out of touch with its employees. Holding one-on-ones with restaurant management, sending out anonymous surveys seeking feedback, and having company meetings can help a lot with cultivating a culture of transparency.

2. Hire Slow, Fire Fast

Selecting the right people for your restaurant is a crucial component to your overall success. One bad apple can lose you customers for life and even generate bad reviews, which may never go away. There are two things you can do to pick the right employees and close the revolving door for good: hire slow and fire fast.

Hiring slow starts with your HR leaders. They need the flexibility to hire thoughtfully and not feel rushed by crushing demands. Hiring slow means proper vetting, cross-interviews, and possibly working interviews. On the other hand, firing fast means feeling empowered to cut people who aren’t pulling their weight, aren’t a culture fit, or whose negativity is dragging the team down.

3. Provide Ongoing Training That Builds Confidence

Restaurant patrons want a repeatable dining experience that they will enjoy over and over again. Ideally, one that they can tell their friends about as well. The best way to provide that is through ongoing training to ensure that the restaurant’s values are instilled in everyone, from those washing dishes all the way through to upper management.

The team needs to know what makes your restaurant special and why you do even the smallest tasks. Tie it all back to the big picture and overall restaurant’s strategy. Beyond that, your staff needs constant training and reinforcement. Bring in outside trainers, have veteran employees teach mini classes on what they do well, and make it fun.

4. Offer Reliability With Benefits & Payroll

People work for compensation and benefits. Sure, there may be a few die-hard culinary enthusiasts amongst your ranks, but if the pay stopped, they’d likely leave.

HR plays a significant role in ensuring employees are paid fairly, on time, and with transparency. Invest in a scheduling system like ZoomShift that provides a complete view of every facet of your operation, from scheduling and time-off to payroll reporting.


5. Maintain Compliance & Create a Safe Work Environment

Running a successful restaurant is hard work. People are both your greatest asset and your greatest liability. Racism, sexism, ageism, and every other “ism” out there opens your workplace up to conflict. Sexual harassment, bullying, and more can quickly take a winning team to one full of conflict and uncertainty.

It’s HR’s job to keep a constant pulse on employee satisfaction and well-being. Surveying employees regularly helps. Facilitating one-on-ones and ongoing workplace training helps as well. It’s not enough to do it once, either. Maintaining compliance requires a consistent message across all levels of the organization throughout the year.

Top 5 Restaurant HR Solutions for Hiring and Onboarding

Here is a list of the five best HR solutions we’ve identified for restaurateurs to help manage the recruitment and onboarding of new staff.

1. Bamboo HR

Bamboo HR is an HR software solution that’s designed from the ground up to meet the needs of small and medium-sized businesses. The software’s feature set is divided into five categories:

  • Compensation
  • Culture
  • People Data and Analytics
  • Hiring
  • Onboarding

Across each of these fields, Bamboo HR provides everything you need to track and fulfill employee compensation, hire new employees, streamline their onboarding procedure, and make sure all your employee’s data are in order.

All data stored with Bamboo HR exists in a single, secure database, which sidesteps the need for various spreadsheets that can easily get mixed up and confusing.

For hiring, Bamboo HR provides a mobile app that allows interviewers and recruiters to easily share notes and important information among themselves, while the onboarding side of the software includes useful features like e-signatures, team introductions, and offboarding tools as well.

To figure out how much it will cost you, you’ll need to contact Bamboo HR directly for a quote.

2. Integrity HR

Integrity HR is a Kentucky-based HR outsourcing company that’s been in business since 2007 and has won numerous awards over the past decade and a half, including a spot on the 2016 Inc. Magazine 50 Best Places To Work list as well as being named 2016 Inc. 5000 Company #3151 and Top Kentucky Company #13.

The company caters specifically to businesses with between 20 and 200 employees (or more in some cases) that don’t want to hire a full-time HR professional. Integrity HR can take care of vital functions, such as:

  • Compliance
  • Management support
  • Payroll outsourcing
  • On-site compliance resources
  • Hiring

In addition to HR outsourcing, Integrity HR also offers:

  • HR consulting
  • HR compliance audits
  • Compensation plan development and benchmarking
  • Performance management
  • Succession planning
  • Corporate education
  • Professional speaking
  • And many more services.

Pricing for Integrity HR will depend on your organization’s specific needs. To get a quote, you’ll need to contact them directly.

3. Bambee

Bambee provides dedicated HR Managers — or HR Directors, depending on the number of employees — to businesses through a monthly subscription model.

Bambee HR professionals can run HR audits, draft company policies, assist with onboard and offboarding, and perhaps most importantly, make sure your company stays compliant with all relevant laws and regulations.

During business hours, you can reach your HR manager via chat, phone, or email.

When you sign up with Bambee, you’ll get:

  • A dedicated HR manager
  • E-signature capabilities
  • Staff folders
  • Staff training
  • Record keeping
  • Unlimited chat

Bambee’s pricing starts at $99/month for small businesses with 1-4 employees, which includes unlimited email and chat. All other plans include unlimited phone in addition to email and chat, and prices range all the way to $2,499 for medium business with 250-500 employees.

4. Restaurant HR Group

Restaurant HR Group is an HR outsourcing solution that specifically caters to the restaurant industry. The company is based in Schaumburg, Illinois, and comprises 12 team members.

The company divides its services into four categories:

  • Human resources administration
  • Payroll administration
  • Benefits administration
  • Employee relations and training

For example, Restaurant HR Group can help you stay compliant with local laws and regulations, run criminal background checks on new hires, craft employee handbooks, handle COBRA administration, and much more.

Of course, one of the biggest benefits to using Restaurant HR Group is that the team is specifically experienced in restaurant HR and will be able to answer more specific food industry questions that other groups may struggle with.

Even though the company offers outsourcing, the Restaurant HR Group team tries its best to integrate with your own team and to create a great experience for you and your employees.

The company’s pricing is not publicly available, so you will need to contact Restaurant HR Group directly for pricing information.

5. Paycor

Paycor is a human capital management (HCM) software that helps small and medium businesses develop their talent, stay compliant, and make administrative work more efficient.

Currently, more than 40,000 SMBs use Paycor, and it has received several awards and acknowledgements, such as being named a Capterra Top 20 software in 2020, a G2 Leader in 2021, and a FeatureCustomers Payroll Software Market Leader in 2020.

Paycor covers:

  • Recruiting and onboarding
  • HR and benefits
  • Learning management
  • Time and attendance
  • Payroll and tax
  • Reporting and analytics

Some specific features include:

  • Unified employee record keeping
  • Tax compliance features
  • Employee alerts and messaging
  • Mobile punching
  • Real-time analytics

To get a quote from Paycor, you will need to contact them directly.

Sam Molony

Sam Molony is the marketing strategist at ZoomShift, the leading employee scheduling software. When Sam's not publishing or promoting new content you can find him playing his guitar or baking.

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