Employee handbooks are essential for companies of all sizes – and the hospitality industry is no exception. Restaurants, bars, spas, hotels and amusement parks are vulnerable to HR or legal issues that could arise as a result of not having company policies documented. Most importantly, in an industry where so much is riding on providing exceptional customer service, a company’s bottom line and reputation are often in the hands of front-line, customer-facing employees.
For all these reasons and many more, you’ll want to be sure that your establishment’s values, expectations, and policies are clearly documented and distributed to all staff in the form of an employee manual.
To help you get started, here are some key policies and considerations for restaurants, bars, and other hospitality businesses when developing an employee handbook.
Start with a Welcome Letter
In the hospitality workplace, your co-workers can feel a bit like a family. Through an effective employee handbook, employers can offer new hires a warm welcome so that they feel like an integral part of the team. A strong sense of team spirit is at the heart of any good company culture, and this is of most importance in the hospitality industry where teamwork is so integral to creating a strong customer experience. A welcome letter sets a positive tone for the policies and procedures that follow in the employee manual.
Mission Statement or Customer Value Proposition
Studies have shown that employee performance improves when workers understand the mission and higher-level objectives of a company – and this is especially true for the millennial generation.
In the hospitality industry, this section of the employee handbook can really drive home the message that service is paramount. This will help create a company culture that is unified in its commitment to providing exceptional service. Companies like Disney have really excelled in creating a customer-centric company culture and serve has great role models to service-based businesses of all kinds and sizes.
Your employee manual should provide specifics around the various key roles in your business. Unlike in a typical office environment where each employee often has a unique role, a restaurant for instance may have fewer categories of positions held by multiple employees, such as servers, bartenders, kitchen staff, etc. By standardizing policies for each of these roles, you ensure fairness, consistency, and compliance.
Consider each role, one by one. For instance, when drafting policies for servers, consider the standard procedures for opening and closing. What are the common responsibilities that repeat daily? Weekly? In addition to opening and closing procedures, consider side tasks, handling of cash, health and safety, etc. Attire may also differ depending on an employee’s role – servers, bartenders and kitchen staff likely each have unique uniforms to meet their job and safety requirements. In sum, company policies in a number of areas will be job-specific, so consider dedicated sections for each role.
Policy for Taking Breaks
For businesses in the service and hospitality industry, it is wise to develop company policies that address the matter for breaks. Hospitality jobs are often physical in nature and require standing or walking for long periods of time. Therefore employees may require frequent short breaks. The policy should standardize the length and frequency of breaks, as well as identifying any designated locations or prohibited activities during breaks.
For example, one key consideration might be employee attire during breaks. When an employee wears his or her uniform, they are representing your business. If the employee is smoking, using their smartphone, or are otherwise unavailable to assist customers during their break, consider implementing a policy in the employee handbook that requires identifying attire (aprons, name tags, etc.) to be removed when employees are “off duty.” This protects your brand and minimizes frustration from customers who are waiting to be assisted.
Safety and Emergency Procedures
The hospitality industry has its own unique set of health and safety risks. For instance, a spa that provides health and beauty services will have to follow specific protocol around hygiene. A busy hotel kitchen will have to contend with food safety as well as the risk of cuts or burns. Behind the bar, employees have an immense responsibility around the safe serving of alcoholic beverages. Staff may even find themselves in a position where a customer is injured or ill and requires assistance or first-aid.
An effective employee manual addresses both the prevention of accidents and safety concerns, as well as protocol for dealing with emergencies as they arise.
Dealing with Customers
Your front-line employees are the faces of your entire operation – the impression they leave with customers can make or break your business. As such, hospitality and service-based industries need to provide employees specific guidance for dealing appropriately and effectively with customers. Examples of policies include prohibiting the use of slang or profanity, steps to resolving conflicts, and guidance for servicing customers with disabilities, to name just a few. Simple “do’s and don’ts” charts can be highly effective as at-a-glance guides to best practices.
If you want to be able to answer these questions easily for your new hires. Try AirMason Handbook Builder. Get beautifully designed handbook templates, create all the content in a jiffy by answering a few questions and easily share it with your employees using a link or as a PDF.