New Employee Orientation at Your Restaurant or Bar

You find yourself in need of additional help and desperately put your new hire in place so that the business continues to run smoothly. Even with the best of intentions to have a comprehensive new employee orientation to introduce new employees to the workplace and familiarize them with some of the company’s basic practices, many businesses fall short in this area. When you are already understaffed, anything that detracts from getting the daily work done tends to fall to the bottom of the to-do list. Keep in mind that it is impossible to hold employees accountable for things you don’t tell them about. Also, employees will work harder when they feel engaged, part of the team, and comfortable that they know what is expected of them. This is certainly a worthwhile investment in your new employee. Turnover is costly to any business and the faster you get your new team member up to speed, the faster you’ll realize your ROI.

During the first week (preferably the first day), you should offer a new employee orientation with topics such as:

  1. Welcome Tour and introductions. Give your new employee a brief tour of the workplace and introduce managers and co-workers. Be sure they know who to ask if they have questions and who their direct manager(s) are. You may also send an email or letter of introduction to key vendors or others with which the employee will be dealing in the near future.
  2. Required Training. Schedule training sessions as soon as possible so the employee can learn about the technology, safety, and any other special skills necessary to perform his or her job. Be sure servers are familiar with the menu items, the wine list and specialty drinks you offer. Make servers aware of the items that are the house specialties or you wish to promote. Inform the employee of any meetings he or she is expected to attend and any highlights on the calendar that deserve special note.
  3. New Hire Paperwork. Collect and complete any necessary paperwork, such as Form I-9, Form W-4 and any required state income tax withholding forms or paperwork required for payroll or benefit enrollment. Provide details on pay periods, direct deposit, payroll deductions, health insurance and any other benefits to which your new employee may be entitled. It is a good idea to prepare a benefits packet ahead of time to give to the employee and let him or her know who can answer questions. If your company uses confidentiality and/or non-compete agreements, this is the time to get them signed and in the personnel records.
  4. Attendance, Leave and Employee conduct. Review the employee’s expected hours of work, as well as the company’s policies regarding absenteeism, meal and break periods, food and beverage policies for employee consumption and time off (including notice required). It is a good practice to prohibit accepting dates from customers, cell phone use, and drinking on the job. These are frequent problem areas for restaurant and bar owners. Make sure the employee understands the rules regarding dress code, telephone and computer use, and other expectations in the workplace. (If your policies are explained in an employee handbook, be sure the employee receives a copy and document that in the personnel records).
  5. Safety and Security. Explain necessary safety and security procedures and distribute building keys, computer passwords, employee identification, and parking passes as appropriate. Be sure to explain policies concerning confidential (trade secret) information handling at the company, both the company’s own confidential information and that of its clients or vendors. Recipes and pricing information are a competitive advantage that should be carefully guarded and protected.