On the Line / Retention / How to do an Employee Evaluation

How to do an Employee Evaluation

Hiring and retention in the restaurant industry is notoriously difficult. Here's how to use employee evaluations to help build a happy, thriving, and successful restaurant team.

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DISCLAIMER: This content is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as legal, accounting, tax, HR, or other professional advice. You are responsible for your own compliance with laws and regulations. You should contact your attorney or other relevant advisor for advice specific to your circumstances.

Keeping restaurant employees engaged and on staff has always been notoriously difficult. Though 2020 was a particularly tough year for restaurants, staff turnover has been a longstanding issue. Before the pandemic, the hospitality industry employee turnover rate reached an all-time high of 78.9%, and thanks to the challenges of 2020, the rate skyrocketed to 130% - meaning that restaurants were losing staff faster than they could hire them. Today, as restaurants scramble to re-hire and hire new employees, it’s crucial to do whatever you can to ensure that once they’re on staff, they’re happy and they stay put.

Benefits and good pay are the most important piece of the puzzle, but building a supportive culture and an engaging work setting with growth opportunities is another powerful tactic to reducing employee turnover. Employee evaluations are a key aspect to this retention strategy: it’s all about offering a regular opportunity to check in with employees, provide both positive and constructive feedback, and take into account their goals and expectations. 

What is an employee evaluation?

An employee evaluation is a periodic performance review, scheduled at regular intervals throughout the year - usually monthly or quarterly. This is an opportunity to have an open and honest conversation with each of your employees and connect on topics that you might not be able to during the day-to-day of running your restaurant. 

This is an opportunity for you to give your employees feedback on their performance, and also an opportunity for your employees to give you feedback on your management skills: what both of you are doing well, and ways in which you can improve. 

How to do an employee evaluation?

Overall, the goal of this conversation is to provide and receive actionable feedback. Each meeting should be a time to discuss overarching performance, gauge happiness and talk about their goals and vision for their future at your restaurant. 

Here is how to plan for each meeting, and how to write an employee evaluation that will help you reduce turnover and grow a happy and productive team. 

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Step 1 - Schedule them Regularly

Employee evaluations should be a regular occurrence — not only when an employee is underperforming. It’s important to have these conversations with every employee — especially your top performers, to make sure they feel happy and supported at your restaurant. 

Step 2 - Plan the Conversation

Come to this meeting prepared, with an agenda of what you want to discuss. 

It’s a good idea to come with a set of talking points for each employee: what they’re doing well, what they could improve on, and what feedback they have for you, as their manager. Here is a 1:1 meeting template to get you started. 


One-on-One Meeting Template

Make weekly, biweekly, or monthly check-ins with employees productive with this customizable Word doc for your one-on-one meeting agendas.

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Step 3 - Have Employee do an Employee Self-Evaluation

It’s just as important for the employee to evaluate themselves, as it is for you to evaluate them.

In this self-evaluation, employees can honestly gauge how they think they have been performing against the goals they have set for themselves. This is also an opportunity for the employee to set new goals, and talk about their career path at your restaurant: where they are now and where they want to be. 

Step 4 - Use the “Compliment Sandwich” Format for Feedback

The “compliment sandwich” is a technique of giving feedback. With this strategy, you start the meeting with a compliment or emphasize something they have been doing well. Then, you move into the constructive feedback, and again, end with something positive. 

One thing to keep in mind here: you don’t want to bury either the positive or negative feedback. You want to make sure that your feedback is clear, so while a compliment sandwich is a great way to run the meeting overall, make sure each piece of feedback (both positive and negative) is clearly defined. 

Step 5 - Write Down Action Items and Growth Areas 

The key to a good employee evaluation is actionable feedback and goal setting. With that in mind, you want to make sure that all goals, growth areas, and action items are written down and revisited at every review, and new ones are added. 

Once you come up with your meeting processes, explain this to your employees, and let them know how each action item will be revisited at subsequent meetings. 

Step 5 - Collect and Reflect

All reviews should be written down and logged in an employee feedback system or even just a Google Doc for each employee, to track goals and improvements. Follow-up is key here: make sure to recognize and praise (and promote!) those who are doing well and growing as a part of your team. 

Build great restaurant teams

With some time and dedication, it’s more than possible to have a happy, thriving, and successful restaurant team. For more information on reducing turnover and increasing retention in your restaurant, check out these resources. 

To learn more about restaurant staffing and retention, check out Toast Video Courses.

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