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Restaurant Staff Training Manual vs Gamification: Which One?

Daniil Klubov Founder & Ceo of spoon.tech
Audri Adhyas Paul
September 27, 2023
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Restaurant Customer Service Training

In the ever-competitive restaurant industry, effective staff training is a cornerstone of success. Well-trained staff can provide exceptional customer service, ensure food safety, and contribute to a positive dining experience. But the question that often arises for restaurant owners and managers is: What's the best way to train our staff?

Traditionally, restaurant staff training has relied heavily on training manuals, thick binders filled with procedures, guidelines, and checklists. However, as technology advances and the workforce evolves, a new contender has emerged - gamified learning. In this blog post, we will delve into the pros and cons of these two contrasting training approaches to help you make an informed decision about which path is best for your restaurant.


Restaurant Staff Training Manual: The Traditional Approach

For decades, staff training manuals have been a staple in the restaurant industry. These manuals provide a structured way to convey information to new hires, ensuring that every employee receives the same training. Let's take a closer look at the advantages and disadvantages of this traditional method.

Advantages of Training Manuals

1. Comprehensive Content: Training manuals are known for their thoroughness. They cover everything from food preparation and safety protocols to customer service etiquette and front-of-house procedures. With a manual in hand, employees have access to a wealth of information.

2. Structured Learning: Manuals offer a structured learning path. Employees can progress through the material systematically, which can be particularly helpful for complex procedures or processes.

3. Consistency in Training: One of the primary benefits of training manuals is the consistency they provide. When every employee follows the same manual, you can be confident that everyone receives a uniform level of training.


Drawbacks of Training Manuals

1. Disengagement: Let's face it; reading through a thick training manual can be a tedious and uninspiring process. Employees may struggle to stay engaged, especially younger employees who are more accustomed to interacting with more engaging content on the internet. As a result, many employees can’t even finish reading the whole manual and decide they will cross that bridge when they get there.  

2. Limited Interactivity: Manuals are typically static documents; however, restaurant processes are highly dynamic and require hands-on involvement. Manuals don't enable any interaction or engagement beyond reading and comprehension. This can be a disadvantage, especially for employees who learn best through hands-on experiences. Employees may also find it difficult to apply the learnings from manuals in real life situations.  

3. Difficulty in Retention: Despite their comprehensive content, training manuals may not be the most effective way to ensure long-term knowledge retention. Due to the lack of engagement, even if an employee goes through the entire manual, they might forget what they've learned over time, leading to inconsistencies in their performance.

4. Updateability: Restaurant processes are highly dynamic. They are constantly evolving. New menu items are being introduced, new equipment is being brought in, new ways of doing things are being invented. If an establishment uses physical training manuals, it becomes exceedingly costly and difficult to update and redistribute them and communicate the changes to relevant employees.

5. Searchability: In case an employee can’t remember a process and needs to find about it urgently, they might find it hard to find that specific information from a physical training manual which are very lengthy and may not always be available in an arm’s reach.  


Gamified Learning in Restaurant Staff Training: A Modern Approach

As technology continues to shape our lives, it has also found its way into the realm of staff training. Gamified learning, a relatively new approach, leverages elements of game design to make training more engaging and interactive. Here's a closer look at the benefits and potential challenges of gamified learning in restaurant staff training.

Advantages of Gamified Learning

1. Increased Engagement: Gamified learning is designed to be fun and engaging. It contains interactive games like quizzes, missing elements, putting in the right sequence to make learning fun. With its leaderboards, ranking and points systems, it taps into our natural competitive instincts and desire for achievement, motivating employees to engage with the contents on their own.

2. Improved Knowledge Retention: When employees are actively involved in a training game, they are more likely to remember the information. Gamified elements like quizzes, challenges, and rewards reinforce learning.

3. Better Accessibility: Gamified training is generally available and accessible from mobile phones, which is a huge plus for restaurant employees who are usually not desk bound. As a result, they often don’t have the time or opportunity to sit at a laptop and read long manuals unless they are doing so out of work hours. For mobile-accessible gamified training, employees can simply train during their free time. It’s like playing games during their breaks or while they’re sitting in the toilets.  

4. Real-World Problem-Solving: Gamified scenarios often simulate real-world situations that restaurant staff may encounter. This helps employees apply what they've learned to practical situations, enhancing their problem-solving skills.

5. Easier to update and communicate changes: Since they’re digital and accessible from mobile devices, any changes in processes can be simply updated in the system and employees can be informed of the said changes via push notifications.

Challenges of Gamified Learning

1. Development Costs: Creating gamified training materials can be more expensive and time-consuming than traditional manuals. It may require the expertise of game designers or software developers.

2. Initial Resistance to Change: Introducing gamified learning into a traditional restaurant environment may face resistance from employees accustomed to the old ways. Some may find the transition to a digital and game-based format challenging.

To get the best of both worlds, you need the comprehensiveness and uniformity of training manuals translated into your gamified training, while making sure the cost, time and effort behind implementation is within reason.

One solution that can help you in this regard is spoon.tech. Its AI-powered intuitive tool can help you easily transform the contents of your training manuals into interactive, gamified contents. You can essentially get all the benefits of gamified training contents without the headache of implementation. spoon.tech even offers a free trial period during which you can gradually roll out across locations phase by phase, giving your employees time to adjust.    


In the dynamic world of the restaurant industry, staff training remains a critical factor in achieving and sustaining success. Whether you opt for the familiarity of training manuals or the excitement of gamified learning, the key is to choose the approach that best aligns with your restaurant's unique needs and objectives.  

Ultimately, there is no one-size-fits-all answer. Your decision should be guided by a deep understanding of your staff, your restaurant's culture, and your long-term vision. Whichever path you choose, the goal remains the same: to equip your staff with the knowledge and skills they need to deliver exceptional experiences to your valued customers.

In a rapidly evolving industry, the ability to adapt and innovate in your training methods can set your restaurant apart from the competition. Whether you go traditional, embrace gamified learning, or find a blend that works for you, the pursuit of effective staff training is an investment that will pay dividends in the long run.

Do you want to elevate your staff training from lengthy and boring manuals to a fun and engaging experience? Get in touch with us by filling out this form. You can also email us at hello@spoon.tech or call us at +43 670 655 56 82.

Daniil Klubov Founder & Ceo of spoon.tech
Audri Adhyas Paul

Hi, I'm Audri, a Master's student in Digital Economy at Vienna University of Economics and Business, and an enthusiast of the food and hospitality sector. Digital transformation in the hospitality sector is an intersection of my practice and passion, and I love to write on that topic. Let's connect on LinkedIn to chat more!

Audri Adhyas Paul

Hi, I'm Audri, a Master's student in Digital Economy at Vienna University of Economics and Business, and an enthusiast of the food and hospitality sector. Digital transformation in the hospitality sector is an intersection of my practice and passion, and I love to write on that topic. Let's connect on LinkedIn to chat more!

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