4 Tips on How to Empower Employees at Your Restaurant

4 Tips on How to Empower Employees at Your Restaurant
Amanda McCorquodale

By Amanda McCorquodale

Restaurants have one of the highest overall annual employee turnover rates in any industry -- 73%, according to a 2016 study. When an employee does leave, it takes an average of two months to replace them, leaving shifts understaffed. In order to prevent a never-ending cycle of turnover, hiring, and training that pulls resources from day-to-day operations, operators can better engage their current staff so they stick around.


One method of engagement is empowering employees to have a sense of ownership in the business. Wondering how to empower employees at your restaurant, look no further!

How to Empower Employees

By passing over some of the control into their hands, staff will be become invested in the overall success of the operation and feel they are a valuable part in making it work. What’s more, in letting go of the some of the reigns in managing the often-hectic operations of a restaurant, operators can also free up some of their own time.

Here are four (free!) ways you can empower employees at your restaurant:

1. Put Them in Charge of Their Availability

A happy employee is one who can balance his or her job with their lives outside of work. When they need to take time away, they need to know there is a reliable method to make those requests.

With an online scheduling platform like 7shifts, employees submit their availability and time off requests themselves. Managers can approve it with one click and it’s then automatically factored into the schedule. Staff feels more in control of the schedule and it prevents managers from fielding request via text, email or phone calls.

With staff’s availability entered into the system, operators will be able to publish schedules weeks in advance. This minimizes last-minute scheduling frustration in which employees receive little or no notice of their work schedule.


2. Let Staff Initiate Shift Changes

It’s one thing for staff to know that their expected time away from work is factored in, but life happens and shifts may need to change on the fly. Say a cook finds out he needs to take a family member to a doctor’s appointment the following day. He can simply log onto the 7shifts app and swap his shift with another team member.

While a manager must also log on to approve the shift change so that it’s reflected in the final schedule, there’s no need for employees to hunt down a manager to field their requests. Staff have the power to seek out someone to cover them at their own fingertips.

Staff looking to pick up a shift can also use 7shifts to see open shifts in the shift pool and bid on them. This can leave them with the feeling that they have the power to work when it’s best for them.


3. Encourage Communication

Everyone wants to be heard. In a 2015 study, 81% of employees said they would rather work in an organization that valued communication and honest feedback over one that offered perks like gym memberships.

With a chat function in a platform like 7shifts, all staff will have a streamlined and simple way of communicating with each other in real-time to ensure everyone is on the same page. Employees can give feedback or make requests by chatting directly with their managers, who do not have to give out their personal contact information.

Operators can also use the chat function to offer transparent leadership by making announcements that staff will receive via email or push notification. It’s also a great way to recognize an employee’s accomplishment directly or to the whole team. Recognition can go a long way to fostering staff retention considering that 47% of workers cite lack of recognition as the main reason for leaving a job.


4. Make It Fun

Companies with engaged employees outperform those with disengaged employees by over twice as much. One innovative way to boost engagement is employee gamification, a concept of applying gaming elements to everyday tasks and situations.

For example, using POS data analytics, some restaurants have created competitions to see who can sell the most of a certain item, who can upsell the most, or generate the most sign-ups for a loyalty program. This shifts the focus of the end result – increased sales – to the people executing those goals. Managers no longer need to rally staff on these sales initiatives, because the fun and addicting elements found in games are motivation enough.

Check out 7shifts and learn how it can empower and engage your staff, who hopefully, stay with the business for years to come.

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Amanda McCorquodale
Amanda McCorquodale

Amanda McCorquodale is freelance writer based in White Plains, NY.