7 practical tips on writing a restaurant employee operations manual

The whole idea of creating an employee manual and then circulating it among your employees is a pretty good one, regardless of whether your restaurant has been around for a while or is fairly new. Provided it’s done the right way, a good restaurant employee manual ensures that your employees know what is expected of them performance wise. 

It also includes such things as safety procedures, policies, job descriptions, and pretty much anything else you want to communicate with your employees. It will outline how employees should talk to you about their grievances, or what to expect if they’re chronically tardy, or how to handle disputes between you and employees on such things as their behavior or the rules and policies. It is effectively a constitution by which you and your employees can abide.

“Your employee handbook can be the foundation on which you build a great restaurant business,” says Tom Brady, a writer at Brill Assignment.

If you’re planning on preparing an employee handbook for your staff, then here are some helpful tips to get it done:

1. Have a template
When starting out, you should have a template for your employee handbook. You can get such templates from plenty of sources, including labor law attorneys, human resources consultants, and so on.

“You can also get them from writing services that focus on writing manuals for clients,” says Elena Durham, a marketing manager at Scholar Advisor.
If the template you get isn’t specific to restaurants, you should include sections on such things as the handling of cash and the reporting of tips.

2. Include your story and a disclaimer
Your handbook isn’t just about telling your employees what you expect of them; it’s also about trying to sell your brand to them. You should include a mission statement, your company history, your organizational values, quotes, company trivia, and so on.

“You should also include a disclaimer pointing out that the handbook is not a contract,” says Aziz Jabir, a policy writer at A-writer.com.

You should specifically state that employees are employees at will and that you can terminate employment at any time in line with the rules of at-will employment.

3. You should require your employees to sign off
Your employees should be required to sign off indicating that they have received the handbook. They should also sign the same statement every time they get an updated policy. It gets even easier to document the whole process when you make employees sign off electronically.

4. Be flexible and make your handbook approachable
It is not possible to anticipate every possibility when you’re preparing your handbook. You can’t foresee every scenario that could come about. Your policy should, therefore, be flexible enough to allow you to deal with the different situations that can come about.
Another thing you should remember about your handbook is to make it as approachable as possible.

“You don’t want your employees to fall asleep as they try to read your handbook,” says Mary Hanscom of SuperiorPapers.

You want it to be in a form that they can read and relate with. You should, therefore, write it in such a way that your employees will actually be able to read it from one end to the next. You should have subheads to refer to the concept of your restaurant. They should be in keeping with the personality of your restaurant. Hard Rock Café, for example, uses song titles for their headings.

5. Have a detailed process for reporting grievances
Don’t see employee complaints in a negative light. They’re actually an opportunity for you and the employees together to resolve issues in the workplace. If you think about it, it is much better to deal with an issue when it first crops up than much later when it has grown too large for anyone to deal with.

You should make the process for handling grievances so your employees know exactly what to do when they have conflicts between themselves, when they have issues on the job, with their supervisors and managers, or when they have issues at home and need some kind of assistance from their place of work to deal with those issues. The idea is to make it such that the employees know exactly what to do in every case.

6. Make your manual easy to reference
The last thing you want is for your employees to not know where to look when they’re trying to find a specific rule in your handbook. That’s why it should be super easy to reference the handbook.

“You can even make the manual a portal online that your employees can visit and search from time to time to find what they’re looking for,” says Alexander Bradbury of College-Paper.

7. Review and revise the handbook with the help of an attorney
The first place to start is to invest in a good attorney to review your handbook. It’s a small investment that is well worth it in the end. They will make sure you have all of your bases covered with such things as local labor laws.

You should also remember that your handbook is a living and breathing document that should be updated regularly to reflect new concerns. Consider reviewing and revising the document every year.

Scott Mathews is a professional content writer at restaurant marketing and hospitality industry. His biggest passion is blogging and traveling. He regularly takes part in different conferences and contributes his posts to different websites. You can contact him on Facebook and Twitter.

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