Bringing together and hiring the best staff for your restaurant is a top priority before opening. But once your business is booming – customers are streaming in on a regular basis and the feedback is stellar – you have to keep that staff happy and motivated so that you can maintain the high level of excellence that you’ve worked so hard to establish. Nothing in the restaurant industry can be taken for granted; customers are fickle and trends are constantly shifting. Motivating your staff and keeping them performing at their best are the keys to staying on top. Although you, as restaurant owner, may have food at the forefront of your mind, your customers also come into contact with the people who bring it to the table: your staff.
Recent studies have shown that happier and more satisfied workers are more loyal and productive. So how do you motivate your restaurant staff? Here are a number of ways to keep them content and inspired so that their performance reflects their high level of satisfaction.
Recognize your Restaurant Staff’s Contribution
Show your appreciation for staff – frequently. An Employee of the Month program is a great incentive –people love to see their work acknowledged and appreciated, by the boss and by the customers whom are they are serving. An outstanding waiter can wear a “Waiter of the Month” button, which is sure to garner a lot of positive attention; or, at the very least, post an outstanding employee’s picture on the wall and on your Facebook page. Discuss his or her achievements at your daily meetings with your staff to motivate the other members of your workforce. In that way, the outstanding employee of the month will serve as a model for the others and be proud enough to continue at the same level of performance. If you feel a photo or a badge is not enough of an incentive, a small monetary bonus, or a day off, will boost the motivation level to greater heights.
More frequent bonuses and incentives are also helpful when motivating your staff. If, for instance, you’re in the midst of promoting a new menu, your wait staff should know that anyone who “sells” the most new menu items during the course of a week will receive a bonus. Waiters are an important part of generating business and that role should be encouraged and incentivized.
Invest in Your Employees’ Future
A staff member with even the slightest bit of ambition – in every field and industry – wants to know that there is room for advancement. Sending your chefs, managers, waiters, or bartenders to courses and workshops that will improve their skills – which in turn will benefit your restaurant – is a win-win approach. Although the outlay may be considerable, the investment is worth it, as it increases loyalty and knowledge, which is good for you and good for your restaurant. Your belief in them along with the new skills they acquire, will inspire them to produce at their highest levels.
Reward the Longevity of Your Restaurant Staff
Your staff is the backbone of your restaurant; from top to bottom – from chefs to busboys – you can’t succeed if you don’t have the wind beneath your sails. Let them know that they are important – that you don’t want to lose them – and they will stay with your through thick and thin. Reward the veterans in your staff with a cash prize, a bonus, or a raise, on a frequent basis (it’s not enough to offer a prize for longevity once every few years). Remember that having to find, interview, hire, and train new staff members is a tremendous drain on your time and money; keep your staff happily rewarded for their longevity and they won’t wander off to your competitor.
All Work and No Play is Not the Way to Motivate Restaurant Staff
Your staff is a team and the idea is to make sure that they view themselves as part of a whole. Build your team with group outings that include a fun activity somewhere other than in the workplace. Offer a back room where workers can rest and unwind during their breaks, maybe with a TV or a pool table. With a chance to have fun occasionally – on the owner’s tab – they’ll take their work more seriously. Then, when they’re in the restaurant, they will have a renewed sense of purpose and a higher level of enthusiasm. Any step you take to boost their happiness and job satisfaction – even off the premises – will go a long way to showing that you care about them and will encourage them to stay in your employ with top-flight job performance.
Feed Your Restaurant Staff
This may seem counterproductive (what restaurant gives away free food??) but a well-fed staff is a happy staff. Do you really want them running to grab a burger during their lunch break rather than enjoying the food that you want them to promote and sell? Food is an amazing motivator and by providing them with the food that they are serving you will keep their spirits boosted, their morale high, and their stomachs sated.
Give Your Restaurant Employees a Voice
The trick to inspiring and motivating restaurant staff is for them to feel like they are more than just a cog in a wheel; rather, they are an important and indispensable part of a process. Consult with them, listen to their opinions and involve them in decisions that affect the restaurant. If they have been working for you for a while, you will be surprised at how much they have learned along the way and how valuable their opinion can be. Having open lines of communication with your staff allows them to freely share their ideas on how their section – or even other areas – of the business can be improved. Be flexible with their hours, according to their availability, give your staff latitude in trading shifts and coordinating hours independently. Your trust in their abilities, their experience, and their honesty will stimulate the type of behavior that you need and want in a staff that you can rely on.
Create a Supportive Atmosphere for Your Restaurant Staff
Although for many workers, a job is just a way to afford “real life,” happiness in the workplace can lead to more job satisfaction, which in turn can help an employee view a job as more than just a way to make money. Keep the yelling and punishing to a minimum; emphasize the positive over the negative; and listen to your employees with an open mind. Creating a fair and supportive work atmosphere that is stress-free (for the most part) and secure is a good way to keep your restaurant staff both stimulated and relaxed at the same time.
Final Words on a Well-Motivated Restaurant Staff
The National Restaurant Association emphasizes that motivating and encouraging restaurant employees is vital – for you, your business, your staff, and your customers. The restaurant industry is competitive and keeping a satisfied and motivated staff is critical in today’s challenging economy. In the long run, everyone wins. With a happy staff, you and your restaurant have a much – much! – better chance of success.