Documentation is Everything
Documentation is not just a restaurant industry issue, it is an issue in every business that has many employees. The law is definite on the issue when it regards the termination of an employee. It is your job to make sure that no detail has been overlooked.
Documentation does not have to be a bad thing, as some of us have come to view it. If you are performing job reviews when you are supposed to, and you are informing your staff of the wonderful things they do and some of the areas they could use improvement, you are documenting. Having a form that each staff member signs at the end of his/her review will show that you have done your job and they have agreed that you have done so.
Not only does this show that you are doing your job and documenting, it also shows your employees that you care enough to sit down with them and actually give them a job review. More than once I have heard friends and co-workers lament the fact that they do not get job reviews when stated at hiring. Their complaint is that they feel insignificant and not valued by their management and company. One person in particular wants her job review so she knows how she is doing and how she can improve. Ultimately, she wants to be able to ask for a raise and justify it. But she also wants to move up in her company and has come to feel that her managers do not want her to move up. It no longer is an issue of money, it is her happiness that is affected. There is no challenge in her current position and there is no job review to state that formally. She has tried talking to her immediate boss, but continues to be brushed off.
Honor your staff enough to know that they might want to improve their skills for their own personal fulfillment. Good attitudes go a long way to a more productive employee. A pat on the back goes a long way in this business. As servers, we all know our hourly rate is going to top out quickly and that it won’t ever come near the money we can make on the floor. Being told we are doing a great job and being offered other kinds of perks and benefits go a long way toward maintaining a great work ethic.
Documenting bad behavior, such as tardiness, no-call/no-show, bad attitude, etc., is the kind of documentation that will keep you out of trouble with the law. Ultimately, it is your responsibility to ensure your entire staff understands the rules and regulations. Having signed documents by them that they understand the rules is one way to ensure that. Have them re-sign the same forms at every review. Hold reviews every six months.
In these days of seemingly frivolous lawsuits, you must consider every possibility and pitfall that could lie ahead. If this sounds paranoid, imagine what you’ll feel the first time someone tells you they didn’t understand the “sexual harassment” rule as another employee walks out the door, claiming that he/she will be contacting a lawyer.
This is an important topic. I feel very strongly about it after having been in the Human Resources business for a couple of years and watching what happens when employees decide to throw responsibility onto someone else’s shoulders. My next newsletter will focus on proper training and protecting your business from those few folks who have not the best intentions when coming to work for you.