Onboarding New Hires in the Hospitality Industry


Onboarding new hires involves performing background checks and delivering new hire paperwork like W-4, I-9, Direct Deposit forms, employee handbooks and other information, restaurant workers, new hiresIf you are in the restaurant, nightclub, bar or hotel/resort business, you are in the hospitality business. It is an exciting, people-centric and time-demanding business that is not for the faint of heart. It can also be one of the most “fun-centric” industries as well, since your customer is usually in the leisure mode when you see them, either eating, drinking, traveling or kicking back.

Most jobs below owner/management level are semi-skilled, typically low paid, tip-dependent and attract a younger worker. Oh, by the way, the work is hard. A big challenge in the hospitality business is the revolving door of workers. It is logical that turnover is great because of the age and demographics of the workforce. Young people change directions with the wind and hospitality workers generally aren’t in for a career. In fact, your training model becomes a key indicator of your company’s success since it is constantly in use.

A company’s culture is perhaps the most under emphasized component of small to medium sized businesses. A company’s culture is the assumptions and behaviors that the people in an organization use in engaging with each other and with the customer. The culture typically evolves on its own in a small business from the top down, for good or for bad. Large companies invest heavily in their culture since a good culture makes a business operate smoothly and affects the customer’s perception of the business.

The Four Seasons chain of hotels and the Nordstrom department stores are often used as examples of companies with culture built around an excellent customer experience. That is a great premise for an industry that must please a lot of people with different levels of satisfaction. Part of the instilling of a culture in an employee is providing a good experience when they join the organization. This experience is called the onboarding of a new employee and can set the tone for the relationship; again for good or for bad.

The key to a good onboarding experience is completeness, friendliness and consistency. In small business, onboarding begins with the delivery of new hire paperwork and the general instructions and expectations to the new hire. Believe it or not, businesses have a difficult time delivering complete and timely new hire paperwork since most have a rather harried environment and operate with a sense of urgency.

Every employee must fill out certain paperwork to comply with the law and to set up for payroll. This includes completing an I-9, a W-4 as well as various forms like basic employee data forms, and direct deposit forms. All this, plus the time an employee handbook is delivered, benefits information is made available to the employee and perhaps a welcome letter from the owner rounds out the batch of paperwork the new hire receives.

The job of collecting the information usually falls on the operations manager or human resources department if one exists. In the hospitality industry, people aren’t usually hired until they are needed so, the sooner they can be put to work, the better.

The proper completion of some forms requires verification of identification documents or submission of banking info for direct deposit. Inevitably,  new employees arrive without identification or some other documentation. This often results in starting the employee off without a complete enrollment and often the follow-up falls short. Not a smooth transition for either the employee or the employer.

Providing new hire paperwork electronically to the employee before they show up for work through either an email or a link to the documents can take some of the strain off of the first day and allow the employee to complete the paperwork in a more leisurely manner. The employee simply shows up with the forms completed and identification in hand for verification.

Ovation provides such an electronic new hire onboarding tool with its hiring and background screening tools in an affordable, easy to use, and effective one stop platform. The platform was designed specifically with the small business in mind and is a great resource for the hospitality industry where, time and first impressions are all important.

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