A well-developed employee handbook is the foundation for streamlined operations at any restaurant. It has the power to steer management to make difficult decisions and empower employees when questions about policies and procedures arise. It can settle disputes and push employees to maximize their job performance. It’s the holy grail of your business.
A useful employee handbook includes these two sections:
- Basic restaurant standards, like restaurant safety, dress code, and code of conduct.
- Complex restaurant processes, like how to report tips or request vacation days.
As you develop the restaurant employee handbook, view it as an ongoing training resource instead of just a categorical list of rules, and separate the information into categories:
- Performance and Appearance Policies
- Customer Service Standards
- Health and Safety Standards
- Labor Laws
- Benefits Policies
- Confidentiality Policies
- Social Media Policy
- Termination of Employment
You may decide that the best way to give information is to create a bundle of documents that include health and safety procedures, industry standards, employee forms, and working conditions. You’re encouraged to print out extra copies and email the document in PDF format so your team always has access to the policies and procedures listed in your restaurant employee handbook.
Performance and Appearance Policies
In the restaurant industry, appearance is important because customers are looking for safe foodservice operators. If there are any doubts about an establishment’s sanitation, it’s not going to last long. That’s why dress code standards are a crucial part to a restaurant employee handbook.
There are several job functions in both the FOH and BOH and all need detailed appearance standards. Include a thorough list of standards for each position, including the following:
- Shoes—specify special colors or styles that may be worn.
- Uniform—specify if a uniform is provided or if there are specific garments and colors employees must wear.
- Jewelry—specify the type of jewelry that is allowed.
- Hair—specify if hair should be pulled away from the face.
The codes of appearance should match your brand identity. For example, if you run an elegant winery, then your team’s appearance should reflect the sophisticated experience that customers are expecting.
Regardless of your restaurant’s service style, clean and tidy appearances are standards across the industry, and they must be reinforced in the handbook.
Customer Service Standards
With appearance standards, your FOH team is going to make a good first impression. The key to a lasting great impression lies in your customer service standards. It’s very important that your staff takes these seriously—and that management oversees their implementation.
What service style do customers expect? Ask yourself this question and develop guidelines for the FOH team. These will instruct and guide them in all future interactions with customers. Be detailed, add examples of scenarios, and provide as much information as possible. If your staff is hesitant to react in a certain way, they can turn to the handbook for guidance.
Include the different types of unique interactions hosts, servers, and bussers have with customers and tailor the specific det