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As if trying to keep customers happy, food tasty and facilities clean wasn't daunting enough, restaurant operators are also tasked with high turnover rates, tax credit processing, background checks, constantly changing schedules and various training obligations.
Trying to juggle human resources is one of the biggest challenges for a majority of respondents in PeopleMatter Institute's inaugural "HR Technology in the Service Industry" survey. More than half of the companies reported having inadequate HR personnel for the amount of work necessary.
Those challenges could better be met if companies adopted a SaaS solution, according to Nate DaPore, president and CEO of PeopleMatter, a talent management software provider for the service industry. PeopleMatter's roster includes Applebee's, Papa Gino's, Boloco, Pizza Fusion and Mad Greens. We talked to DaPore about the survey results and the quickly evolving HR department.
Q: Why did PeopleMatter decide to do the survey?
Nate DaPore: We realize the value of providing SaaS technologies. This survey provided a vehicle for us to gain insights into how, where, with what, how, etc., service-industry employers are conducting their HR initiatives today. Our goal was to find out what is interesting to our target audiences.
Q: Did anything stick out or surprise you from the results?
ND: We knew many companies still use paper processes for talent management, but it is always surprising to see just how many (According to the survey, one-half conduct HR tasks by paper/manual methods).
We were also astonished to learn that companies wanted to increase their training time. Usually you hear about companies wanting to reduce times, ensuring related expenses are also reduced. Our survey found that all respondents wanted to increase their required training times.
Q: How does that demand fit into the technological approach of HR?
ND: (More training time) is most cost-effective with an online talent management system because you don't have the related trainer, classroom, outside-of-work, travel and entertainment, etc. expenses related to classroom training. Online training ensures consistency of message and content, and provides the opportunity to train anytime, anywhere.
Q: How would you describe the growth of technology in the HR process, particularly in the foodservice industry?
ND: By informally surveying C-level HR executives from the foodservice industry, they stated that over the past five years, there has been a transformation from all paper-based HR to complete automation. This has been embraced by chains of five or more locations. They also find that adoption-of-point solutions for HR is a slow migration that everyone is scrambling to implement. The movement to a comprehensive platform is the easier solution many are opting for in lieu of point solutions that have to be integrated.
Q: Why are smaller chains slower to adopt this technology? (Large companies are 147 percent more likely to incorporate an online talent management solution)
ND:A few reasons:
Q: The restaurant industry has a notoriously high turnover rate. The National Restaurant Association estimates it to be 75 percent of the workforce. PMI's survey found that online HR solutions have reduced turnover rates by 43 percent. Why does the implementation of and online HR solution yield such a large reduction in turnover rates?
ND:The first step to increasing retention is hiring the right people. The wrong "fit" will be unhappy in any service position. By improving pre-hiring and onboarding processes, employers can find dependable service-minded people whose talents and skills meet the specific needs of their business.
By improving pre-hire and onboarding processes with automated tracking, screening and onboarding tools, employers can find dependable, service-minded people whose talents and skills meet the specific needs of their business.
Q: What are some tips on how to gain higher employee retention?
ND: Employers can hold onto top talent through three proven steps – improve hiring practices; increase employee engagement; and integrate collaborative tools. Implement these steps to find better people, give them training and recognition to motivate growth, and foster engagement through open workplace communication. All can be achieved through an online talent management platform.
Q: In your opinion, how long until talent management platforms become the rule rather than the exception?
ND: Smaller chains are realizing the value of these systems more and more. A connected platform brings value through by integrating data from all aspects of an employee's work profile, including assessments, training, rewards, resume, etc. Today's service-industry workforce is predominately comprised of Gen Y and Millennials. These generations focus on mobile-social connectivity, which in turn demands those tools in the workplace.
Today's employers need to hang on to top, trained and invested talent. No matter what size of the company, creating a culture where these types of employees stay year after year shows that a company values their employees and is engaged and progressive. All of this factors into the reality that now is the time for companies, regardless of size, to adopt talent management.
Q: Where does an ROI come in with an online HR solution?
ND:Adopting a platform that automates all the processes from hire to retire and scheduling to learning works together to give employers the highest ROI. An automated solution that can save employers time and money by ensuring they hire the right fit due to pre-screening applicants with online assessments is vital. Other modules, including scheduling automation that is otherwise labor intensive, costly training, reduction in turnover; I-9 compliance and tax credits, positively impact the bottom line.
Check out PeopleMatter's entire report, "2011 HR Technology in the Service Industry" here.
Read more about operations management.