Communication in restaurants is key, and your employees want to hear from you. But what is the best way to communicate with your staff? Is it still email? Or should you consider using another platform?
One thing to be aware of is that some of your employees may not use email accounts regularly. One in five Americans only access the internet through their smartphone and do not have broadband service at home. Of the apps people do use on their phones, email is overshadowed by Facebook, YouTube, Snapchat, and Twitter, especially among young adults, who make up a sizeable proportion of your workforce.
So what to do? First, don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. Email can still be a good way to circulate policy changes, company vision, and other longer documents. It is appropriate for company-wide messages that need to be read at some point. It just isn’t the place to put your most urgent restaurant communications, since your employees might not see them right away.
You may have instantly thought of texting. Yes, but not with your phone’s built-in texting service. Group texts are cumbersome and don’t always work well between different service providers. Worse, some employees may incur a data charge to read your messages. Instead, get everyone on the same platform—free to your employees—to make sure you’re all getting the messages.
You can be sure of employee engagement if you use a platform that your staff is already familiar with. WhatsApp ranks right up there with Twitter and LinkedIn for the most-used apps. It provides group messaging capability for up to 265 people, offers video and audio calls, and allows for document sharing.
The group message feature is where you can post-shift changes, menu changes, and any other information you will want your staff to see soon after you post it. WhatsApp has the added benefit of using your phone’s internet connection so that you avoid SMS fees. They now offer a desktop version as well to maintain continuity across your devices.
Some businesses use Twitter or Instagram, and they can be part of your communication strategy—with some caveats. Consider that these messages are public, and especially for Twitter, quite brief. Also, since employees must subscribe to your feed, they may not get messages immediately.
Twitter, Instagram, and similar platforms are best used for brief announcements and quick shout outs that share your company’s culture with your employees—and the outside world.
The most robust communication application is an internal messaging platform that your staff can use on their smartphones.
Slack, Microsoft Teams, Glip, and Flock are all highly rated by PCMag. They provide an integrated platform for instant messaging, text messaging, private forums, audio, and video calls. Most also offer screen sharing. Costs are $3–$8 per person per month. All but Microsoft Teams offer a free version.
These types of platforms also offer great spaces for team collaboration. Imagine a workspace for your management team to share ideas asynchronously, or to meet virtually in real time to hash out scheduling, staff, or menu issues. You can set up workspaces for servers or kitchen staff to use as message boards for information only relevant to them.
Glip and Slack are the most feature-packed of these apps. Glip offers a team calendar. Slack has a keyword feature that notifies users of messages containing their chosen keywords. Both Slack and Glip also offer loads of integrations with other apps.
Not the Apple app. The best way to communicate with staff remains face-to-face meetings. Those all-staff huddles at the beginning of shifts are the best way to get your most important messages across and build team energy. Face time with leadership also helps staff feel that the leadership team cares about them and wants to keep them in the loop.
Layering your restaurant communication across instant messages, the occasional email, and frequent personal chats are the best way to keep your team informed and on top of their game.
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