Your hourly employees are the face of your quick-serve restaurant- responsible for the day-to-day interactions between your customers and your business. These positions are often plagued with high turnover rates and unfortunately, sometimes the people filling them fail to deliver the quality of service your brand promises. Training and skills development are excellent tools, but they should be thought of as tactics to enhance already-existing characteristics, ones that can't always be be taught. When hiring hourly employees for your restaurant, ensure they fit front-line job requirements by looking for these characteristics:


The Center for Creative Leadership defines empathy as "the ability to experience and relate to the thoughts, emotions, or experience of others."(1) The center found that increased levels of empathy are directly related to how well a manager performs his or her job. Empathetic employees understand and respond to customer needs better; they are more likely to relate to customers and delight them with genuine care that makes them feel valued. In terms of future management potential, empathetic employees make excellent leaders. They are also more likely to be respected by their peers, because they naturally show an interest in others' success.

A Flexible Attitude

Today's customers have higher-than-ever service expectations. With more consumers turning to social media to share their experiences, one bad transaction could cost a business dozens of customers. That's where a flexible attitude comes to play. Customer-facing employees dealing with frustrating or demanding customers need to be able to modify processes and come up with solutions on the spot. An associate who understands and embraces "the customer is always right" mentality and is equipped with a can-do attitude exemplifies what today's consumers are seeking.

Conflict Management Skills

Regardless of the service, there will always be the occasional unsatisfied customer. An associate with conflict management skills can keep calm under pressure and tend to a customer's concerns without a defensive attitude. It's critical that in-store employees can handle conflicts with grace and a positive reaction. Who knows, they may even turn an unhappy customer into a loyal one. This is an important trait for managers to have as well, as conflict management plays a huge role in managing and retaining team members.

Time Management Skills

Dealing with customers, staff and general job responsibilities can become quite hectic. It is easy for hourly employees to become overwhelmed and stressed, especially during lunch or dinner rush hours. Associates with innate time management skills are better equipped to handle stressful scenarios. They can naturally assess the situation and prioritize time as needed. And because these employees are likely to be more organized, they also tend to arrive on time and juggle job responsibilities with ease. When associates know how to take control of their time, they improve their ability to focus. And with increased focus comes enhanced efficiency, because they don't lose momentum.

Hire people who will represent your company's brand standards, core values and culture. Unlock the potential of these employees that exhibit high potential by offering soft-skills training and other employee development programs. Employees with the aforementioned characteristics (and supplemented by the right development programs) will not only make excellent in-store representatives but also posses the necessary leadership skills to move up with your company - improving associate retention and solidifying your company culture.

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Resources: (1) Center for Creative Leadership