5 Simple Ways to Keep Restaurant Staff Engaged

Simple Ways to Keep Restaurant Staff Engaged

Maintaining a positive outlook among your staff members is essential in a people-oriented business like running a restaurant. That positive vibe trickles down to your diners, which makes the entire experience more enjoyable for everyone. Here are five simple yet effective ways to make that happen. 

1. Empower Your Work Force

Micromanaging your staff is one of the worst things you can do to your business. Employees who believe someone is always looking over their shoulder get the impression that they're not trusted and will be hesitant to make decisions on their own. They may even start looking for alternative work locations.

Instead of micromanaging employees, a wise manager seeks to empower the workforce by being more diligent when hiring and training new staff members. Hire the right people, train them to understand your operations and service values, then allow them to do their jobs and make decisions. This will create a more enjoyable work environment for the staff while also allowing you to spend more time managing from a high level. 

2. Schedule Pre-Shift Meetings

Hold meetings before each shift to discuss daily objectives. This time can be used to make sure the staff is prepared and that they all know the specials and items to promote and upsell during the shift. Make sure to include both the front- and back-of-house staff in these meetings. Both are critical to the success of every shift and it will lessen the divide between the kitchen and the front-of-house staff.

3. Hold Staff Competitions

Consider holding staff competitions on occasion. This is a way to get the most out of your employees and make sure they are not simply going through the motions. Let them compete against each other for prizes, like free food, a cash bonus, or a paid day off. These competitions should be related to the goals you introduce during pre-shift meetings. Perhaps you offer a prize for the server who sold the most specials or the hostess who does the most to go above and beyond for guests during a shift.

4. Eat & Drink Together

Feed your people. It may seem like a little thing, but staff meals give the front-of-house a chance to appreciate the kitchen and the work they do every day. If you host pre-shift meals with the entire staff, it can also help to create a sense of community that allows everyone to get to know each other in a low-stress environment. This is also a great time to showcase new specials so servers can recommend them to guests.

5. Provide Performance Reviews

Providing employees with visibility into the operations side of the restaurant is a powerful way to make them feel a part of something larger than their individual roles. It's called “open book management,” a term originally coined in the warehousing industry. At the end of each month or quarter, spend some time sharing high-level financial information with the staff and provide insights that will allow them to see the bigger picture. It can motivate them to help the team reach its bigger goals.

Whether you employ high school students or career foodservice workers, everyone wants to feel fulfilled in their jobs. With a strong understanding of your staff and what drives them, you can create an environment of healthy competition and team camaraderie. You'll have happier and more productive people committed to running your business.