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The minute you enter a restaurant, other than the ambiance, one thing that makes me feel good is the good behaviour of the staff. The way they address us and take care of us is the most important aspect. Also, the most important feature would be the staff knowing everything about the restaurant and their knowledge about the menu. The food industry is a dynamic and competitive field that demands constant innovation and adaptation to meet ever-changing consumer preferences. In this environment, the success of a food-related business is intricately tied to the competence and skill set of its workforce. What makes a difference is that employee training and development plays a pivotal role in ensuring that the staff in the food industry is equipped with the necessary knowledge and skills to meet the challenges and demands of the market.
“Training & Development is everything in the hospitality business. Right from consistency in taste to etiquette to greeting a customer with a smile, customer engagement, knowledge about the food served and taking feedback. All of this can be achieved only with constant training and development. Unlike the AI industry, the food industry is highly dependent on intelligence through L&D, which is constantly evolving and is continuous,” said Siddharth Rangarajan, Co-founder, Suvaii.
“Employee training and development plays a very important role in the restaurant space because people who are dining in are coming for a certain experience that they want to take away with them. Hence the staff and the people behind the brand need to be well versed and knowledgeable of the brand. When staff is trained there is a positive environment for both the workforce within the organization and the customers to have a seamless experience,” added Chetan Hedge, Founder, 1522, Bengaluru.
Quality and Safety Compliance
Employee training is crucial for maintaining quality and safety standards in the food industry. With stringent regulations governing the production, handling, and distribution of food products, well-trained employees are essential to ensure compliance with industry standards and avoid legal issues.
Customized Training Programs
Recognizing the diverse roles within the food industry, many restaurants have developed customized training programs tailored to the specific needs of different departments. Whether it’s kitchen staff, front-of-house personnel, or managerial positions, targeted training ensures relevance and effectiveness.
“In our 9 years many trainees and supervisors who started with us have now grown to hold more important positions as managers and many have had great growth in different avenues all thanks to various training sessions. With more diverse training activities team members become more mature and can handle difficult situations and more responsibility. They also feel more motivated after being trained and confidence comes more easily,” said Biswabhushan Lenka, General Manager, Jupiter Hospitality.
“We have a few customized training programs and one among them is the Culinary Canvas Workshop which is designed to inspire creativity and innovation in the culinary arts by merging the worlds of food and art. Participants will explore the artistic side of cooking, experimenting with flavours, colours, and presentation to create visually stunning and delicious dishes,” said Kamal K Jalan, Director, OIEPL Food & Beverages.
“The other program is the “Menu Magic Mastery” which is only made for training service staff to enhance their confidence, knowledge, and communication skills, ultimately contributing to a positive dining experience for customers and supporting the overall success of the restaurant. Thorough training on the entire menu, including detailed knowledge of each dish, its ingredients, preparation methods, food tasting and potential allergens is very key. This ensures that service staff can confidently answer customer inquiries,” he added.
In the dynamic landscape of the food industry, companies encounter several key challenges in ensuring effective and continuous employee training. One prominent obstacle is the rapid evolution of industry standards, regulations, and technological advancements, which necessitate frequent updates to training programs. Additionally, the diverse nature of roles within the food sector, ranging from kitchen staff to front-end customer service, poses a challenge in designing universally applicable training modules. Limited resources, both in terms of time and budget, often hinder the implementation of comprehensive training initiatives. To address these challenges, restaurants can leverage technology by incorporating e-learning platforms and virtual simulations, allowing for cost-effective and scalable training solutions. Regular assessments and feedback mechanisms help tailor training programs to individual needs, ensuring relevance and effectiveness. Moreover, fostering a culture of continuous learning and development within the organization on a timely basis encourages staff to proactively engage in ongoing training, promoting a skilled and adaptable workforce in the dynamic food industry.
“In the fast-paced food sector, companies grapple with challenges such as a lack of passion for customer experience, the integration of tier 2/3 talent, the need for continuous training, and a lack of knowledge about training programs among small businesses. To address these issues, businesses should implement regular training sessions emphasizing a customer-centric culture, develop processes for seamless talent integration, recognize training as an ongoing process, and conduct outreach programs to raise awareness about available training resources and certifications, particularly targeting small businesses,” said Siddharth.
Biswabhushan added, “Since many employees are freshers the industry needs more food and beverage related courses and the industry requires more awareness in the market. There is a slight lack of hotel management institutes and courses with hands-on knowledge for students who want to join the industry. Due to certain highly stressful situations many freshers feel uncomfortable and leave which is also contributing to a strain in finding the right talent.”
Adaptation to Technological Advances
The food industry is witnessing rapid technological advancements, from automated production processes to digital inventory management. Employee training is necessary to ensure that staff can effectively operate, monitor, and troubleshoot new technologies like digitized menu (post covid), digital billing and much more, thereby improving efficiency and reducing the risk of errors.
“Even the food industry requires the staff to be trained on how to use certain tools such as table management platforms, food delivery platforms such as swiggy & zomato along with a bunch of other platforms that a restaurant onboards for smooth operations. Most of the platforms do offer virtual training to the staff and this has been of great help and enhancement for the employees in the food industry,” said Chetan.
“With e- learning we can conduct training for multiple outlets at once which reduces the cost of traveling to each location and in a few short sessions many activities can be covered without having to halt operations periodically. However, it is noticed that practical and hands-on based learning is considered better. We have executed many successful trainings through e-learning which do not need for the instructor to be present such as grooming and hygiene,” added Biswabhushan.
“Technological advancements have significantly impacted employee skill enhancement in the food industry through innovative training methods. The integration of e-learning and virtual 3reality has revolutionized training, offering immersive and interactive experiences that enhance skills. Additionally, social media serves as a powerful tool for learning, adaptation, and addressing feedback, both positive and negative. The evolution of virtual training programs tailored to hospitality staff and business operations has further contributed to skill development. Creating a functional infrastructure driven by processes has reduced human errors, ensuring efficiency. Moreover, the availability of a wide range of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Point of Sale (POS) tools minimizes human interference, streamlining operations and enhancing overall employee capabilities,” added Siddharth.
In conclusion, employee training and development are integral components of success in the food industry. By investing in the customized training programs for continuous learning and growth of their workforce, restaurants can enhance quality, safety, and customer satisfaction while staying abreast of technological advancements and market trends. A well-trained and motivated workforce is not only an asset to the business but also a driving force behind innovation and sustainable growth in the ever-evolving landscape of the food industry.