Every hospitality business needs a quality employee manual that will allow them to present the information new hires need in order to function smoothly in their new jobs. It’s a handbook for everyone on staff: hosts, customer service, servers, chefs, managers, and those employees who work behind the scenes to ensure that the restaurant runs smoothly. Writing your employee manual for the first time can be a challenge, but this will help make it easier.

A Few Things to Remember

As you’re writing your employee manual, there are several things you’ll want to keep in mind. These include:

  • Most employees will not read the manual cover to cover; instead, they’ll turn to specific sections when they need the information. Make sure that it has a table of contents and an index that makes it easy for them to check out important resources.
  • The employee manual can’t stand alone. Employees will still need to receive training and verbal instruction in critical areas.
  • Create a document that can change according to the shifting needs of your restaurant. Make sure that changing information is presented to all current employees.
  • Keep a copy of the employee manual on hand at the restaurant. Even the best employees won’t keep up with their copy forever.

The Sections

Typically, an employee manual contains several key sections that will make it easy for employees to navigate while they begin their new job. Using a familiar template will make it easier for you to write your manual while simultaneously making it easier for employees who have previously worked in hospitality positions to find the information they need.

The Welcome Letter

Start by welcoming your employees to the business and giving them a sample of what they can expect while they work there. The best welcome letters include a sense of the restaurant’s attitude: for example, a welcome letter for a family-friendly, fun restaurant might read very differently from a welcome letter designed for a formal restaurant.

Important Policies

When a member of your staff opens up their employee manual, it’s usually because they’re looking up a specific policy. These might include:

  • Policies for each type of position/restaurant section; this should include expectations for customer service, front of house, kitchen and bar employees.
  • Emergency policies: How will the restaurant respond in the event of an emergency?
  • Call-out policies: What do you expect of staff members who must miss work for some reason?
  • The policy for swapping shifts: how must it be recorded? If one server or host covers a shift for another, who should they notify?
  • Safety policies and procedures, including any specific things that must take place throughout the restaurant in order to ensure staff and guest safety.
  • Information about performance evaluations, if relevant: how often they’ll occur, who performs them, and what is expected of each employee.
  • What appearance you expect of your staff, including whether or not piercings or unnatural hair colors are acceptable and what type of attire is expected.
  • A discipline policy that covers how issues will be handled throughout the restaurant and how employee transgressions will be dealt with.
  • Cash handling policies, including how cash is to be dealt with and how tips are to be reported.

Employee Benefits

What benefits does your restaurant offer to full-time employees? Do you provide insurance? What about a meal policy? Be sure that your benefits section includes everything your employees can hope to enjoy while they are employed by your restaurant. Being detailed here is a must so there is no confusion about said benefits.

Communication Options

Communication standards can make or break a workplace. If you want to make the most of your restaurant, provide your employees with plenty of opportunities to communicate. This might include phone numbers, email addresses, and how to mention a complaint if they have one. You can also include hours when the owner can be reached for discussion if necessary.

Creating an employee manual is a process. Your manual will change several times over the life of your restaurant. You may learn that you need policies that you didn’t think were worth mentioning or that you need to change your rules to reflect the changing needs of your employees and guests. As you construct your employee manual, however, you’ll discover that it’s much easier to track your expectations and keep your employees aware of the way your restaurant handles specific issues – and that means more satisfied employees who find it easier to perform their daily jobs.

For more useful management resources, check out Sirvo’s business toolkit!

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