How Café Owners Can Manage Today’s Workforce in the Digital Age

As an industry, cafés and coffee shops have boomed over the last several years. In fact, the number of coffee and snack shops in the U.S. has increased nearly 50 percent from 2002 to a high of 55,246 establishments in 2016.

In return, the growth has enabled numerous entrepreneurs to turn their visions of owning a café into a reality. The challenge? All the behind-the-scene tasks required to operate a successful team and business.

These entrepreneurs are likely first-time business owners who have a passion for food, community, and service; not serial entrepreneurs with experience in employee management, culture cultivation and accounting. And it often doesn’t take long for them to realize they must run internal business operations like inventory, budget management, and financial forecasting; and external business processes including delivering high-quality products and maintaining superior customer satisfaction – all while effectively managing and motivating a team of employees. This means handling hiring and training processes, and maintaining an enjoyable work environment.

Management Mayhem

For many café owners, it’s a catch 22 – to run a successful business, they need trustworthy, efficient workers. However, too often, their time is shifted away to handle the challenges of employee management, including:

Inefficient Scheduling: Keeping track of employee availability and requests for time off in order to manually compile schedules can be a nightmare. And if owners have more than one location, the process becomes even more daunting.

Disorganized Communication Among Team Members: It’s natural for employees to swap shifts or request someone to fill in for them. However, without a proper system, it’s easy for shifts to fall between the cracks, leaving owners responsible for finding replacements. It’s also hard to keep everyone in the loop on announcements and ensure that required tasks are completed.

Securing Compliance: Whether it’s government regulations like the Department of Labor’s new overtime law, maintaining accurate payroll, or trying to prevent occurrences like “clopening,” it can be stressful for owners to stay in compliance.

The more employees feel these repercussions, the more likely they are to leave. In fact, hospitality turnover rose for the fifth consecutive year in 2015 to 72.1 percent.

The Four Keys to Optimization

However, it doesn’t have to remain this way. By making the following simple adjustments, café owners can help employees overcome issues like obstacles to taking sick leave, facing increased overtime, and frequent rejections of requested time off, ultimately decreasing turnover and creating happier work environments.

1. Deliver Frequent, Diverse Communication: Today’s workers prefer to have their personal and work lives at their fingertips. So, rather than phone calls or in-person meetings, provide frequent communication across channels including email, text, and video. According to a survey from TriNet, 85% of millennial employees actually expressed they’d feel more confident if they had more frequent conversations with their manager.

2. Offer Flexibility vs. More Money: Recently, work-life balance has become an even more critical component for any job seeker. This means employees desire flexible work hours, schedules, and the opportunity to easily make adjustments. In fact, it’s been reported that young workers, like Generation Z’ers, appreciate flexibility more than a raise when it comes to benefits and compensation.

3. Provide Frequent Recognition and Awards: The number one reason Americans leave their jobs is that they don’t feel appreciated. Today’s workers thrive in environments that offer opportunities based on hard work and performance. By giving recognition and rewards, it makes employees not only feel respected and valued, but it also increases their satisfaction, productivity, and motivation.

4. Do Away with Structured Performance Reviews: Managers see structured reviews as a time-consuming process that does little to improve performance. Employees view them as excessively subjective and demotivating. The same TriNet survey even found that 28% of participants have responded to a performance review by searching for a new job. As mentioned above, communicate with employees on a more casual and consistent basis instead. It helps them feel more comfortable and improves company culture.

The Secret Sauce

So how can café owners successfully apply these new adjustments when they’re still bogged down with day-to-day tasks? The secret is implementing an employee management solution to fit their needs.

Take a look at Derek Belnap, owner of 3 Cups. Before utilizing a mobile-first employee management technology, Derek would send group texts and emails to his team about tasks and open shifts. He also used pen and paper to tally up changes to timesheets before payroll processing.

Now, by implementing a simple, streamlined solution, Derek can create and update employee timesheets, copy schedules from weeks prior based on staff availability and more, straight from his mobile phone.

The 3 Cups team is also able to stay in constant communication. Whether it’s using their smartphones to post a message about one’s schedule, or asking someone to switch shifts, or using the team’s iPad kiosk to see their assigned tasks for the day, they never miss a beat.

In addition to enhanced team culture, Derek’s solution also provides him with a 360-degree view of business performance. In fact, he is able to see how much revenue 3 Cups is generating in real-time compared to how many employees are on the floor. This provides him an accurate view of business performance and helps him forecast the amount of employees needed during high and low times of business – saving 3 Cups time and money.

Ultimately, by utilizing employee management software, café owners across the globe are finally able to have the best of both worlds. No longer must they sacrifice putting one priority over the other. Instead, they can focus on living their dream of serving their community, building relationships with locals, connecting with visitors, and continuing to create jobs for others.

jason-walker-headshotAbout Jason Walker

A thought leader within the SaaS and retail industries, Jason Walker has more than 20 years of experience, and has worked with some of the biggest brands you know, including Home Depot, HP, Best Buy, Target, Apple, and Nokia. Jason currently serves as president of the Americas at Deputy, a leading global workforce management solution.

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