How to Write a Restaurant Employee Manual

Write a restaurant employee manual to help keep your staff in line.
Write a restaurant employee manual to help keep your staff in line. (Image: David De Lossy/Photodisc/Getty Images)

One of the most important responsibilities of a restaurant owner or manager is making sure that his staff is properly trained and aware of all company policies. This is imperative to the success of the business because, in a restaurant, the staff are virtually running the place. Inferior training can sacrifice the quality of service and company reputation considerably. One way to ensure proper training is to provide staff members with an employee handbook. Once you have your company rules, regulations and procedures in check, you can easily write a restaurant employee manual.

Consider whether you will need multiple versions of your manual. In the restaurant industry it is common to employ a staff made up of several different positions such as cook, hostess, server and busboy. If company policies and procedures vary by position, you may need to create a separate manual for each position.

Compose your introduction page to begin the manual. Your introduction is basically a brief note -- one or two paragraphs -- welcoming the new employees to the company. Include a short summary of the company history, mission and philosophy. If your restaurant has won any special awards or acknowledgments, add them as well. Close this page with a brief segment outlining your equal employment opportunity statement.

Outline all operational procedures of the restaurant. In this section you will outline general company procedures that apply to all -- or most -- employees. Include any information regarding clocking in and out, side work, server station assignments, schedule information and all other tasks and responsibilities that staff members will be required to perform on a day-to-day basis.

Include detailed descriptions of each position. These sections should clearly state the job title, description and responsibilities associated with each position. You may also include comparisons of the right and wrong ways to do things. For example, "Wrong = Bring all appetizers, soups salads and entrees to the table at once" - "Right = Clear the appetizers from the table before serving soup, clear soups before salad, and clear salad plates before serving entrees."

Transcribe a detailed account of all payroll and benefits information. Here you will inform employees of all company policies and procedures related to receiving compensation and benefits. Clearly outline any offered benefits packages, pay and schedules and advancement opportunities. If you offer free or discounted meals to your staff members, describe the conditions regarding redemption of such benefits.

Clearly describe the employee dress code in specific detail. For health and sanitation purposes as well as individual company policy, many restaurants enforce a strict dress code. Add a section to your manual that describes in no uncertain terms how employees are expected to present themselves at work. Include all uniform information regarding clothes, shoes, smocks, aprons and name tags. When applicable, add any information regarding hairstyles, jewelry, tattoo visibility or acrylic nails.

Review the company policies regarding employee privileges and prohibitions. Include an entry in your manual that describes the employee use of company property. Include specific direction to any designated meal or smoking areas, locker rooms, staff closets, parking space assignments and any areas of the restaurant that are off-limits to employees.

Establish a solid code of conduct. Most businesses operate under a certain code of conduct that aims to provide a safe and comfortable working atmosphere. This is particularly necessary in a restaurant setting where a social ambiance and alcohol are often present. In no uncertain terms, describe what type of behavior is expected of your staff. Include all activities that will not be tolerated as well as the consequences for insubordination.

Close your manual with a request for a signature of acknowledgment. A remark frequently made by restaurant personnel who have been reprimanded for poor service or improper behavior is "I didn't know." You can protect yourself from potential "wrongful termination" or discrimination lawsuits filed by disgruntled former employees by requiring new hires to sign a statement verifying that they have been properly trained and are aware of all company rules, regulations and policies. This statement should appear at the end of the manual -- to ensure that it is read -- and once signed should be stored in the employee's file.

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