“The long-term veterans on staff are making it very difficult to hire new employees. Every time I hire someone new, they are harassed and treated poorly by the employees that have been here a long time. Most new hires quit quickly and those that don’t, have a hard time fitting in. I can’t improve the situation if I can never get anybody new in? What can I do?”
Address The Issue With The Entire Staff
First and foremost, address the issue head on. Get the
staff together and let them know the situation you noticed. Inform all staff that harassment or belittling of new employees will not be tolerated. Instruct that training is not just the responsibility of the specific trainer but on the staff as a whole. Everyone is responsible for ensuring the success of a new employee.
New employees will make mistakes, that is okay and part of being new. They will be slower at first, that’s okay too. Everyone needs to help aid and assist.
Hire For Fit
Are you consistently hiring just anyone to fill the position or are you hiring for fit. It’s your responsibility or the hiring manager’s to ensure that you are creating a team that is not only talented but that fits well together. Make sure you are hiring for fit as well as for talent and need.
The issue of veterans vs. new hires may become the most tenuous when trying to change the dynamic of your restaurant. In this case you are purposefully not hiring for fit because you want your new employees to be very different than the last. In this instance it is okay not to hire for fit. In this instance, you will likely have to work extra hard initially to minimize issues between old and new employees. You’ll likely have an increase in discipline and possibly termination in this instance as well.
Put Added Responsibility on Veteran Employees
One extra way to help, that may seem counter-intuitive is to put added responsibility on the veteran employees. Require more from them. If a new hire is struggling to fit in or is making frequent mistakes, ask the veteran employees what they are doing to help. Motivate them to help and align employees toward success. “If we cannot get new employees in here to help out, we won’t have anyone to cover when someone needs off which means I will be denying many more requests.” The faster the new employees are up to speed and properly trained, the easier everyone’s job gets.
Fix Training Holes
Hold trainers partially responsible for trainee mistakes. Ensure your trainers are training the way you want them to. Trainers may be purposefully training poorly to try to eliminate new employees. If this is occurring, discipline is necessary for the trainer.
Is there a problem with the program itself that is causing new hires to make similar and consistent mistakes? Reevaluate your training program to ensure that your program is set up properly. Ensure it covers all the necessary functions needed to complete the job.
Inform New Hires
As well as talking to current employees, don’t have your new hires go in blind either. Having them know that their might be some turbulence early on might help them get through the storm. Oftentimes, a new hire may feel that it is just them that is not liked. Knowing that most new hires in the past have received some flack might help them prepare more.
This isn’t acknowledging that the behavior is okay however. Have them let you know if they experience any backlash as a result of them being a new employee. Address all issues immediately. Actively look for bullying, as the new hire may be hesitant to alienate themselves farther by telling on their trainer.
Ideally, you inform the new hire of a possible issue and it never happens, and they feel extra special for making it through without problem, even though that should be the norm.
Hire In Groups
If you are having a particularly hard time with the old versus new battle. Hire in groups. The new hires will then have someone to go through it and team up with. Additionally, it’s easier for a veteran to single one new hire as being incompetent, but it’s harder to prove that all three new hires are.
Further, if you have a bunch of new hires at once, as they get trained you can start to remove problem employees.
Discipline Problem Employees
If after having a group talk with everyone you still have problems with the issue of new hires being discriminated against, you need to discipline the problem veteran employees. You will never get good hires in to correct the problem if your veteran employees never let them. Start with verbal warnings, written warnings, suspensions, and terminations if needed.
Get rid of the one or two problem employees to improve the overall organizational health of the restaurant. This will help you much more in the long run even if hurts you a bit in the short term. You will never fix your problem if you have employees that consistently poison your other staff into hating new hires.
And that’s it. I know, easier said then done. However, with the strategies above, you can eliminate your issue fairly quickly if you are firm and hold the standard. The veterans will soon learn that the new hires aren’t so bad and that they can actually help make things easier. Further, the more new hires you get in, the less elitism will exist in the staff, and the better organizational health you’ll have overall.