There is a common misconception that giving people raises will increase their workplace happiness. Unfortunately, this is more often than not…incorrect. Researchers have found that recognition for good work and a solid workplace culture is imperative when it comes to measuring workplace satisfaction.
In the restaurant industry, you’ll find venues that keep the same employees for decades. In others, you’ll see someone new every time you walk in the door. This sends a message to your customers. If your employees stay, you probably run a successful business that will be around for a long time. If there’s someone new every time they walk in the door, chances are there’s something not so great happening behind the scenes.
Here are our 10 tips for keeping your employees happy, your turn-around low, and your customers loyally returning for more.
1. Employee Benefits
I’m not talking 401K’s. I’m just talking about staff meals, discounts for friends and family, and breaks. It can be difficult to offer a free staff meal for everyone, but many restaurants supply at least one basic meal for employees. The alternative is offering a decent discount on your menu for employees to purchase during shift. This shows you care about the health and wellness of your employees. Also, let’s face it, no one is happy serving other people food while they’re hungry themselves.
Don’t skip people’s breaks! In a hectic restaurant environment, support goes a long way. Again, it shows you care about your employees who can then care for your customers.
2. Autonomy and Trust
This discount should also apply to friends and family members. If not, your employees can find a way to get their friends a discount anyways (I’ve seen it happen firsthand in nearly every business). Offering this upfront means that you can track how much extra business friends and family bring in, and encourages employees to invite their networks to your venue. Give them the autonomy to offer this discount occasionally to loyal customers as well. It never hurts to grease the wheels for someone who already loves your business.
3. Fair & reliable scheduling
If you’re changing availability and scheduling people last minute, it can send the message that you are not respectful of their personal time. While you may think work should come before personal matters, your employees may not. This job could just be a stepping stone towards pursuing their bigger dreams or maybe their family is also really important to them.
Scheduling in advance (2-3 weeks is great), not changing anything once a schedule is set, honoring employee’s requests for time off, and giving everyone a fair number of hours is critical to ensuring your employees are satisfied at work. If someone isn’t getting the hours and earning what they need to make a living, they will find work elsewhere.
There can be times where achieving an advanced schedule can be challenging, but if you aren’t able to schedule in advance because you’re undergoing hiring or a workflow change, just communicate and be open with your employees.
4. Regular business
Again, if people aren’t making the money they need to make, they’ll find another place to work. Bringing in business is not just good for you; it’s good for your employees. Encourage your employees to be part of this forward motion by making sure they understand the importance of customer satisfaction, conveying promotional information to customers, and talking positively about your business, even to their friends. These days, people are put off by businesses whose employees are treated unfairly and word will spread. Your reputation is good for future hiring as well as bringing in customers.
5. Incentives, Improvements, and Input
I can’t tell you the number of times I saw inexpensive fixes that a business could make to help with costs and efficiency, but management ignored these small suggestions. Listen to feedback and ask your employees for input. Then, actually take steps to improve things when they make suggestions! It shows you are open and care about them and the business. No one wants to work for a business that is going to stay the same for the next 10-15 years.
6. Staff dynamics and culture
If you have the resources, use a personality test or figure out team dynamics when hiring. You can use this to ensure your staff members get along well. At successful tech start-ups, up to a certain number of employees, every person at the company will “interview” a potential newcomer. If even one person gives a thumbs down, that person will not be hired. Ensuring that your employees like each other and are able to work together as a team is incredibly important, especially if you pool tips. If someone isn’t pulling their weight, it will take a toll on the rest of the team.
Encourage your employees to bond together by organizing events outside of work, like visiting a local brewery that supplies your venue, going hiking, holding a get-together at the park. Again, some of the most successful companies encourage employees to spend time together rather than frowning upon it. If you’re at a company long enough, your co-workers could be your second family and are an important social network.
7. Support and Simplify
If there’s an easy way to make your employees’ job easier (like implementing a POS or reducing the amount of paperwork they have to fill out), then do it. The easier you make mundane everyday tasks for your employees, the more time they will have to focus on what matters – serving your customers efficiently and leaving a positive impression.
This also applies to having enough people on staff to handle the workload. If you consistently understaff, your team will feel unsupported, and they’re not going to be able to give customers the 5-star experience.
8. Recognition for good work & Opportunities for Advancement
Even if it is part of the job description, recognizing when someone does something well or a simple “thank you” when work is completed will go a long way. Desire to be recognized is part of a person’s innate desires as a human being. Use this to your advantage. Tell that employee thank you for taking such good care of your regular customer, for staying beyond their scheduled hours, or their neat appearance.
If there is room for advancement, make sure to give the opportunity to someone who has shown initiative and who is respected by their fellow employees. Ask around and see who comes in early, encourages other employees, and is someone people see as a leader.
9. Caring and Understanding Begets Loyalty (Both Ways)
If you’re in a less than ideal situation with an employee (perhaps they have personal issues preventing them from coming into work on time), rather than firing them, work with them. Maybe it’s coordinating their schedule to work better with personal matters or pairing schedules up so people can carpool to work. When that employee, and your entire staff see that you are willing to invest in them, they will also be loyal and respectful towards you.
There are times this is not entirely applicable. If you have the sense that an employee is taking advantage of your good will or stealing, don’t let them walk all over you. There is a balance between being the boss and being a mentor, but always make sure that your concern comes from a place of caring. Everyone will react better, even when confronted in uncomfortable situations. And at the very least, you know that you behaved in a respectful manner, which your staff will see and will in turn have a positive effect on team moral.
10. Great managers
This Psychology Today article says that people don’t leave companies, they leave bad managers. This works the opposite way as well. If you have a great manager, employees are more likely to stay. A hard working, fair leader will command respect and loyalty from employees.
Overall, remember to show care, respect and forward motion in the workplace. Keeping retention levels high keeps hiring costs low and helps your business work on improving rather than staying afloat.