Handling HR in a restaurant can be tricky, as you’ll need to grapple with a whole host of unusual situations in order to keep staff happy.

Here’s a few potential scenarios you might encounter, along with some tips on how to tackle them effectively.

HR scenario 1: A waiter is regularly rude to customers, resulting in several complaints

Waiting staff can have good and bad days, but if one team member is consistently rubbing customers up the wrong way, something needs to be done.

How to deal with it

More than likely this is an issue with training and experience; a younger waiter, or one who’s used to working in an environment with different expectations might not have the right skills for your restaurant.

Ignoring this issue is the worst thing you can do, so it’s important to act quickly and train the team member to address their customer service shortcomings.

HR scenario 2: A team member reports a colleague for harassment

Harassment is a problem in every workplace, but amplified in a tight-knit restaurant team where people are working in close proximity and for long hours.

How to deal with it

Consistency is key when tackling harassment; you need to have a clearly thought-out policy on this issue and a plan for how to deal with reports of inappropriate behaviour when they arise.

You also need to make sure that employees know they can raise cases of harassment with you without fear of being ignored or facing dismissal.

HR scenario 3: Your staff turnover is too high

Not all restaurant employees are committed to their work as a long-term career and often see it more as a stop gap solution until something more permanent comes along.

This can leave independent restaurants with sub-par staff retention rates and a lack of loyalty.

How to deal with it

Keeping talented waiting or kitchen staff invested in your restaurant is tough, so you need to give them an incentive.

Providing tangible benefits, such as flexible working hours and competitive rates of pay, will help in this respect.

It’s also important to establish a friendly, appealing atmosphere and a sense of camaraderie to build loyalty and make sure staff stick around.

HR scenario 4: An employee is injured in the kitchen

There are lots of things that can cause injury in the kitchen, from hot surfaces to sharp implements.

How to deal with it

Ideally you’ll have conducted a full risk assessment, invested in training and prior planning to prevent accidents.

Having a first aider on the team at all times is also essential and will help you cope with minor injuries that will inevitably occur.

HR scenario 5: An employee keeps turning up late for work

Lateness shouldn’t be tolerated in restaurants, especially when busy periods are looming, and other staff need to work harder to pick up the slack of the absentee.

How to deal with it

Acting quickly, making sure employees understand their obligations and taking a fair, measured approach is vital.

Regular performance reviews can help improve attendance rates – particularly if a given employee is sporadic with their time keeping, but not always late every day.

Wrapping up

Handling HR in a restaurant is all about adopting a cohesive strategy, taking action to resolve issues as soon as possible and – most importantly – keeping a level head.