A restaurant earns its reputation primarily from two things: its food and its service.
In order to deliver on both these accounts, though, it is critical that you cultivate an environment where people – customers and staff alike – want to be. We are most productive and responsive when we are happy, so it makes sense to create an environment that fosters this kind of positive emotion.
In the restaurant industry it can be difficult to maintain front- and back-of-house staff, as many will eventually move on to pursue new ventures such as school, travel, or alternate employment. Worse yet, some may leave simply because they do not feel valued or that there is meaning attached to the work they do. High staff turnover has the potential to negatively impact your business’s productivity, employee morale and, of course, the quality of product and customer service.
Although turnover is inevitable in virtually any industry, all hope is not lost. As a manager, there are countless low- to no-budget tips to engage staff and build a strong foundation for your business. Below are my ‘Fab Four’ tips complete with examples on how to maintain a happy, healthy workforce:
1. Be Flexible
There’s more to life than work, so it’s important to be respectful of your staff’s life outside the restaurant walls as well. If a staff member is going through a messy break-up or is in the thick of exam season, encourage as harmonious a work-life balance as possible. If they need to request time-off, try to accommodate it if you can still find the appropriate coverage.
2. Acknowledge Your Employees
Managers often underestimate the power of two simple words: “Hello” and “Thanks.” You can personalize your interactions even further by taking the time to learn a few key details about each of your staff members (e.g., their kids’ or pets’ names) and by asking questions. Sincerity is key, however; when you show genuine interest in your employees, you are implicitly sharing with them how much you value and appreciate having them as part of the team.
3. Give Credit Where Credit Is Due
Similar to acknowledgement, a lack of recognition can quickly lead to low morale and a feeling that the work being done is not appreciated. Whether you make use of staff incentives (e.g., bar tabs, spa vouchers for tired feet) or a highlights reel at your regular staff meetings, when you share personal and professional successes as a group, you foster a cohesive community. (TIP: If you aren’t already meeting as a team on a regular basis, it’s about time you start!)
4. Create Opportunities
This tip is two-fold: you want to create opportunities for idea sharing and for career advancement.
Your employees are the eyes and ears of your operation, so don’t hesitate to canvas them for feedback and opinions. This creates a sense of ownership and accountability by embedding your staff’s hard work and valuable ideas in a bigger picture context.
Another key strategy is talent management. Take note of employee who demonstrate initiative, integrity, or management potential and present them with special projects, training responsibilities, and other developmental opportunities. The idea here is to keep your employees feeling stimulated and challenged.
This list is by no means exhaustive, but by implementing even a few of the ‘Fab Four,’ you’ll be taking proactive steps to reduce turnover and boost staff morale and motivation.