Washington DC may be joining NYC, Seattle, Chicago, and others with minimum wage increases for tipped employees. Many of the increases will take place over the course of years. For employers, this usually creates fear, frustration and even protest. However, there is no getting around it once the laws are in place, and labor compliance violations can cost significantly more than pay increases will.
It comes down to a few key points to keep the changes positive for all involved.
Stay Abreast of Changing Laws
Staying current and aware of the labor laws in your area is the first step in compliance. After all, you can’t adhere to the new rules if you don’t know what they are, and, in the eyes of the law, ignorance isn’t an excuse. Use an employment law attorney, your human resources department (this can also be outsourced), a labor compliance specialist, and/or the US Department of Labor.
It is important to have resources that are up-to-date on state and local labor compliance laws as well, so avoid general legal information websites that offer little value.
Improve Your Workforce
Now is the time to clean up your employment practices and improve employee performance standards. The restaurant industry is notorious for turn-over, resulting in heavy onboarding expenses. Adopting an “always hiring” mindset can help keep your employees from feeling overworked due to under-staffing, while still allowing you to hold them accountable to performance goals.
Paying staff higher wages needs to be leveraged in a way that creates a higher level of performance, but also needs to be done in an intentional and consistent way.
Optimize Your Labor
Tracking, tracking, tracking. Under-staffing can lead to lost sales, and over-staffing can increase payroll expense with no benefit. Tracking patterns of both employee and consumer behavior can help you properly staff and manage payroll expenses.
Use time clock management tools to:
- Watch for employee habits such as early clock-ins, habitual overtime, or unregulated shift swapping
- Staff for peak times more effectively without having to cut staff and hurt morale
- Automate and simplify schedules and empower staff to make their own shift changes within provided criteria
- See real-time data, rather than “historical” data from financial reports
There is no better time than now to optimize your labor for increased management and profitability. Putting new systems and procedures in place prior to a wage increase will help you manage expenses and stay labor compliant.