4 Tips To Motivate Your Employees To Work On Thanksgiving

One of the hardest parts about keeping your restaurant open on Thanksgiving Day is having enough staff. This is due to the fact that Thanksgiving is one of the few federal holidays that is celebrated by Americans of all stripes and colors. Also, it extends into the weekend, enabling people to travel and visit with family and friends from all over the country. That said, most people would prefer not to work on this festive day. Therefore, if you plan on scheduling your regular kitchen and wait staff to come to work, and expect them to show up, you may be in for a let down. You cannot force anyone to show up, and even though they might risk their job by calling in sick, there really is not much that you can do about last minute no shows. Instead you will find yourself shorthanded and in need of employees4 Tips To Motivate Your Employees To Work On Thanksgiving. The best way to avoid this problem is by motivating your employees to actually want to work in your restaurant on Thanksgiving day.

How can you accomplish this? Check out our 4 tips for motivating staff to work on Thanksgiving Day.

Schedule Shorter Shifts

Since it is likely that everyone will want to plan their own Thanksgiving festivities, the best thing you can do is offer shorter working shifts. Schedule your regular Thursday workforce to work on that day, but limit their shift to only a few hours. This allows your employees to work, while also having plenty of time to plan their own Thanksgiving dinner and family time. If your employees know that they don't have to put in a full day, they may be more willing to work.

Offer Extra Pay

Money is one of the best motivators for anyone employed in the food service industry. Try offering extra pay to those willing to work a shift on Thanksgiving Day and you may be surprised at how many people step up to the plate. It is a way for them to earn extra money, and if you have shorter shifts, they will still have plenty of family time left in the day. Some employees may even want to work longer shifts simply because they need the extra cash. 

Offer Bonuses

Some businesses offer bonuses to those who are willing to work on holidays. You can set up a system whereby whoever wants to qualify for a bonus by working on a holiday would have to work their normal shift before and after the holiday, as well as on the holiday itself, in order to quality for the bonus. Whether the bonus is money or a vacation day, chances are that your employees will appreciate any special consideration you give them for working on this day. Spend some time thinking about what motivates them and the best way to reward them. You may find that many of your employees willchoose to work in order to get a bonus as it shows them that you value them.


Another way to get staff to chose to work on Thanksgiving day, is by making it fun. Offer contests throughout the day that staff members may enter. You can choose any type of contest you want, and any type of prize. Chances are that your employees will love the competition and will also enjoy waiting to see who wins each prize. Contests will make the day go by more quickly and give them something to look forward to. Contest ideas can include menu trivia contests, who can upsell the most, and who can get the most likes on their Facebook page for posting a menu item from your restaurant. Contests can even include your customers, depending on your restaurant style.

The key to motivating employees is to make them actually want to work on holidays. You can do this by appealing to them in the following ways: scheduling shorter shifts, offering extra money, giving bonuses and having contests throughout the day. The key is for you to work together with your staff to provide an environment in which they don't mind spending part of their holiday helping you serve your customers.

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