Restaurant employees train at the espresso machine while using their LMS.

How to Build Company Culture When Employees Don’t Work in the Same Place

Sarah Greesonbach | 4 min read

Building a cohesive company culture is a challenge in any industry, but it’s especially difficult for restaurants and restaurant franchises.

Low hourly wages means a role in a restaurant is often an employee’s first job — true of 25% of Americans — leaving restaurants in a constant cycle of hiring young, inexperienced workers and building company culture from the ground up. On top of that, employees are often spread across different locations, and sometimes even states!

Company culture starts to seem like an impossibility because culture is a product of relationships, and you can’t have relationships with people you don’t interact with.

“In the restaurant industry, low levels of engagement and high levels of turnover are the norm, which can make it hard to have a consistent company culture across the business,” says Lana Dalton, a Wisetail expert Client Success Manager. “That’s why we love to show restaurant and restaurant franchise clients that an LMS is not ‘just’ a central place to find information and training. It’s a powerful tool that can increase employee engagement, break down silos, and create a social and interactive community of learners.”

If you’re fighting to build culture in an environment with high turnover, sequestered staff, and no budget for quarterly on-site all-hands meetings, here are three steps you can take to get your company on the same page when you aren’t in the same place.

Get everyone in the same digital space

If your employees won’t work together every day — or ever — you can use an LMS to make sure they share a digital space. But deciding on the right LMS is just the first step. Your efforts won’t amount to much if you don’t support your LMS with an engagement strategy that encourages employees to sign into the space and interact.

When you bring an LMS into your organization, position it as a one-stop hub where everyone can get the latest updates and information. Then treat it that way: bring important information into the system, ask leaders and managers to use it when sharing big announcements, and use it yourself when communicating with team members.

“A lot of companies want to know how to get employees to keep coming back and logging into the LMS,” says Dalton. “The best way to engage employees is to have something on there they have to log on to go look at. Anything you would otherwise post in a breakroom or use as a topic for a long training video should be broken into smaller pieces and put into the site — it will be super helpful, and they’ll actually want to see it.”

Click here to learn more about engaging your employees in your LMS.

Restaurant employees train at the front counter while using their LMS.

Simplify asynchronous content sharing

Once employees see the value in getting their information from the LMS, turn their attention to all the ways they can really make their LMS their own. Asynchronous content sharing features like a bulletin-board style welcome page, social feed, and chat function let employees share videos, photos, and content to encourage discussion and collaboration across time and location barriers. They also provide plenty of opportunities to see other people’s content, engage with it, and build relationships — an integral step in establishing a strong sense of company culture.  

“In high turnover restaurant environments, many employees see their job as a place to clock in and get a paycheck — they don’t see it as a place where they can build community,” says Dalton. “Show your employees how they can get that sense of connection in your LMS by interacting with each other and sharing work-related content. That they can be social even if they don’t have shifts together, connecting with people at different locations or even higher up in the company to break down those barriers.”

Click here to learn more about the benefits of social learning.

Wisetail LMS client Bailey Nelson.

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Reinforce and celebrate cultural values

Just as important as encouraging your employees to make your LMS your own is customizing the LMS to your company. This is where an LMS’s homepage and content sharing come into play to reinforce and celebrate company culture and values. From the color scheme and log-in page to featured employee video stories to behind-the-scenes updates from your corporate office, you can use your LMS to make sure employees see, hear, and feel what makes your company unique — and take part in it.

“You can feature any content on your LMS homepage, so choose something unique to your company culture,” says Dalton. “Some clients put up links to employee wellness programs, eLearning modules that explain benefits, or fun outside-of-work events. It’s one more way to influence company culture with your LMS that employees will really value.”

Click here to read how Einstein Noah and Caribou used an LMS to build company culture during a merger.

Believe it or not, a vibrant and plugged-in company culture is an attainable goal for restaurants and restaurant franchises with more than one location. You just can’t expect it to come together on its own. A social, employee-focused LMS sparks relationships between employees who don’t work in the same location and provides two-way communication that allows them to contribute and connect — and actually get an answer back.

BY SARAH GREESONBACH

Sarah is a writer for Wisetail. By analyzing and condensing cutting-edge research and data, she helps L&D professionals develop their instincts and arrive at actionable insights for employee engagement and training. She loves to consider the possibilities of humanizing, organizing, and minimalizing all things HR.