QSR

How QSR Companies are Using Gamification to Train Their Workers and Reduce Turnover

High employee turnover is costly to the Quick Service Restaurant Industry. According to CNBC, the cost is anywhere from $600- $2800 per employee. Gamification is starting to be used throughout the Quick Service Restaurant industry with excellent results.

Gamification is starting to be used throughout the Quick Service Restaurant industry with excellent results. Not only is gamification a fantastic way to engage and motivate employees, it’s also very easy to deploy virtually to all the locations in a franchise.

QSR companies are struggling with high turnover rates

Panera Bread is losing 100% of their workers every year. How much is this turnover costing them? It’s hard to know, according to CNBC, the cost is anywhere from $600- $2800 per employee. This is a serious problem throughout the quick service restaurant industry. The “gig” economy is pulling some workers from the restaurant industry. Low wages are also a factor that prevents some workers from staying. The overall feeling is that it’s a temporary job. This turnover problem is not just costly, it affects the quality of customer service. When employees are dissatisfied, their unhappiness can be transferred at the restaurant into poor service which can ultimately lead to bad reviews. According to this QSR article, “Yelp averages more than 178 million unique visitors every month across its mobile, desktop, and app platforms. Per a 2018 study, roughly 45 percent of consumers said they were likely to check Yelp reviews before visiting a business. Nearly 65 percent said they look to Google.” So not only are the restaurants losing their good employees, they are losing business because of poor service.

How are QSR companies dealing with their high turnover? 

In order to combat this issue, some QSR companies are automating some of the tasks to save on labor. For example, touchscreen kiosks and partnerships with Uber Eats and DoorDash help automate the ordering process. The other solution is employee training. According to this article in QSR, training is one of the main reasons why good employees leave their QSR job and why service is not up to par. “If employees don’t know what they’re doing, they won’t feel confident. And if they’re not confident, your restaurant’s service is likely going to suffer. Also, training draws a clear career path for employees to aspire to and stay engaged for, thus leading to retention.” Training needs to happen more often and be more engaging to ensure employees are retaining what they are learning. Game-based learning can help. Panera’s CFO says “All training had been in back of kitchen; now it is all on iPhones, and I can see it going to goggles — employees see it right in front of them, training them in a fun and interactive way.” Games have been part of the fast-food industry for years for marketing to engage customers and keep them returning. Now, they’re starting to realize the power of play to train and retain their employees. Games tap into our intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. Games offer a chance for employees to be recognized for their job well done and win tangible rewards (such as gift cards and days off). “67% of employees surveyed about their QSR job wanted paid bonuses and recognition from their managers. 38% would like public kudos.” 

What Types of Games work with QSR employees? 

Branching path or scenarios based games are perfect for training soft skills like customer service and communication skills in a QSR environment. Games can be created to simulate real life customer interactions and give employees paths or choices to make while also providing feedback on how they performed. These games can be played on a desktop, mobile phone or tablet. KFC created an Escape the Room simulation game to train employees and franchises. It includes mini games and is both challenging and fun. “ ‘Dubbed ‘The Hard Way,’ the quirky simulation is presented as an escape room with mini games and surprises detailing the five steps of the chicken-frying process, all controlled by a meticulous, animated Colonel Sanders. KFC enlisted Portland, Oregon–based emerging tech group Wieden + Kennedy Lodge to make the game both educational and wryly entertaining.” Virtual Reality (VR) games can be used for onboarding new employees to help them understand the story behind the brand and the mission. This article explains, how fast-casual chain Honeygrow incorporated VR games into their onboarding process. “Donning VR headsets, new hires progress virtually through Honeygrow’s five “engine points,” from food safety to good customer service. Parts are gamified to make learning more effective, such as a food-safety game in which employees choose the correct shelf on which to place vegetables and raw meats. Justin Rosenberg, founder and CEO added “We feel people will retain information much better if they’re able to engage and interact in a meaningful way,” Denis says. “This generation has grown up with video, gaming, and technology. More and more, we learn by doing rather than reading.” They also saved money with this approach because they didn’t have to fly people to the headquarters to train. In 2011, McDonalds started using simulation games to train their employees how to use the register while also providing great customer service in the UK. The game provided a “practice playground” where they can fail in a safe place and learn. They were scored based on getting the customer’s order 100% correct and executing the order quickly. They were also able to watch a “happy customer” meter during the game to understand how they were performing.  The results? “The game led users through a 20-minute exercise of serving customers, becoming increasingly challenging as it progressed. They placed the game on the McDonald’s portal, and within the first six weeks it was played by 50,000 people, saving the company £1/2 million in direct training costs.” A blended learning strategy that includes both micro-learning in the form of quick bite-sized video courses and gamification is perfect for QSR. Jersey Mike’s was recognized last November at the 2019 MURTEC Breakthrough Awards game-based learning program the form of micro-learning to train their staff on food safety standards with a robust eLearning program. Games are a great solution to reduce employee turnover and change the way QSR and franchise workers are onboarded and trained. Hundreds of companies who have instituted this game-based learning approach have seen more engaged and confident workers while also saving money by reducing training and travel expenses.

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