In order to get the most out of your front- and back-of-house personnel, it's important to find ways to reward them and keep them engaged in their daily responsibilities. The restaurant industry faces extremely high employee turnover, which can be a huge drain on time and resources. If you want to discourage staff from leaving and ensure that they are engaged in their roles, you need to find little ways to make the work environment more interesting and enjoyable.
1) Empower Them
Micromanaging your staff is one of the worst things you can do to your business. If people feel as if someone is always looking over their shoulder, they get the impression that they're not trusted and will be hesitant to make decisions on their own. Instead of micromanaging employees, be more diligent when hiring and training new staff members initially. Hire the right people, train them to understand your operations and service values. If you do those two things, you can then empower employees by allowing 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) Pre-Shift Meetings
Hold meetings before each shift to go over the objectives for the day. 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 help lessen the divide between the kitchen and the front-of-house staff.
Consider running staff competitions on occasion. This is another way to get the most out of your employees as they are not simply walking through the motions, but competing against each other for a prize. These competitions should be related to the goals you introduce during the 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) Break Bread 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 everyday. If you host pre-shift meals with the entire staff, it can also help to create a sense of community. It will allow everyone to get to know each other in a low-stress environment (an unusual thing in this business!). This is also a great time to showcase new specials. Feed new dishes to the staff so they can better (and more genuinely) describe them to guests.
5) Restaurant Performance Reviews
Providing employees with visibility into the operations side of the restaurant is a powerful way to make them feel as though they are part of something larger than their individual roles. Henry Patterson of the Boston-based Delta Group promotes a similar concept with his clients. 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. How have sales fared compared with historic numbers? Why are the numbers trending in this way? Sharing this insight will allow the staff to see the bigger picture. It can motivate them to find ways to improve in order 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.