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Showing Appreciation to Restaurant Employees: 9 Simple Ideas

December 19 2018 by Dan Pecha

showing-appreciation-to-restaurant-employeesLosing a good employee not only disrupts your operations; it impacts your bottom line. A study by the Center for Hospitality Research at Cornell University estimates that the true cost of staff turnover could be as high as $5,864 per employee when factoring in hidden productivity loss, recruitment, training time and other expenses.

The long hours, weekends, fast-paced environment and wages all play a role in why so many restaurant and foodservice employees seek other employment. But studies show the reasons employees stay are more often linked to how much they enjoy the work and, just as importantly, how appreciated they feel doing it. To help your team feel the love and to boost your employee retention rate, use these tips to demonstrate your appreciation:

1. Peer Recognition

Get a whiteboard and encourage employees to write notes of encouragement for fellow workers. Words have incredible power — praise for how a server handled a difficult customer or a note about how well someone ran the kitchen can be inspiring.

2. Flexible Hours

Talk with each staff member about how they define a "desirable schedule" and try to accommodate as many adjustments as is feasible. When possible, provide consistency from week to week, and rotate holiday hours. Consider using scheduling software to help manage this aspect of your operations.

Restaurant Employee Retention

3. The “Bob” Special

Maybe an employee came up with a unique and tasty combination of pizza toppings. Offer their recipe as a limited-time special and name it after them. Post about it on social media with a photo of your employee making it or guests enjoying it. You might be surprised — an innovative idea may lead to a regular menu item.

4. Keep it Private

The old adage of “praise publicly, criticize privately” goes a long way in helping even a less-than-stellar employee succeed. While it may make for good reality TV, yelling at employees in front of others is never a good idea. Address situations as needed in the moment, but always take employees aside to discuss performance issues. Not only will that team member feel respected, but other employees will notice and feel less anxious about making mistakes.

5. Make it Fun

Create opportunities for your team to express themselves and add in a little competition, too. Around the holidays, have a white elephant gift exchange or an ugly sweater contest where the winner gets a gift card or day off. Celebrate other events throughout the year including staff milestones and birthdays, or plan inexpensive team outings to build camaraderie.

6. Thank You

A heartfelt thank you that details why you’re thankful can go a long way in motivating employees to go above and beyond, and costs nothing. Get specific... “You have no idea how grateful I am that you put away those boxes without being asked.”

7. Get Input

Are you trying out a new recipe? Have a tasting session and seek your employees’ input and suggestions. Thinking of replacing booth upholstery in the dining room? Seek the advice of employees who you feel have a sense of style. Having input into some business decisions gives employees a sense of ownership and pride.

8. Appreciation Fund

Did a customer tell you how great their server was? Was there an online review that mentioned the friendliness of your pizza delivery person? Establish a staff appreciation fund that only you know exists. Every time you hear of an employee excelling, put a little cash aside. When an appropriate time comes, use some of the money to treat everyone to a staff outing, year-end bonus or other gift.

9. Continuing Education

Invest in your employees by offering opportunities for continuing education such as safe serving training for bartenders, sanitation and food handling training for kitchen staff, or even drivers' safety training for delivery drivers (insurance companies are typically happy to provide this).

Equipping your employees with the skills they need to succeed and appreciating their effort empowers them to do their best on every shift, even when understaffing crunches time and ramps up stress. Support and maximize your team with the best practices and advice found in The Efficient Kitchen: Doing More With Fewer Employees. Click the button below to access your copy now.

Efficient Pizza Kitchen Operations

Categories: General Operations, Restaurants

Dan Pecha

Written by Dan Pecha

Pizzeria Consultant
Dan is a hugely important slice of Alive & Kickin’ (see what we did there?). He started in the pizza business when he was just 14 and eventually opened his own chain of restaurants, supplying his own dough balls for each of them. He expanded to supplying dough products to other operations, then founded the Dough Shop®. Alive & Kickin’ was thrilled to acquire the Dough Shop® in 2015.