Planning Staff Satisfaction And Happiness Into A New Restaurant From The Beginning

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How to motivate restaurant employees:


It is anticipated that 1.6 million new restaurant jobs will be created by 2030.

When a new restaurant is planned, the bulk of the focus is on the venue layout, concept and menu.

Of course these are important elements, but the workforce is the driving force behind any successful restaurant.

Hense cultivating a happy and fulfilled team from day one is not only the most socially responsible approach: it’s good for business too.

So what can new restaurant owners build into their plan from the beginning to keep staff happy and engaged throughout their time with the business?

Let’s look at how to motivate restaurant employees:



Take training above and beyond

Employees feel confused and frustrated if they’re thrown into work without thorough training.

So ideally, all staff should be properly prepared before they begin their new roles. Subsequently, do you have a restaurant employees handbook?

If you’re setting up a new restaurant, all staff will be in the same boat. But for workers employed later, allowing them to shadow existing staff is a good strategy. This helps you reinforce the positive sides you are pushing from a management point of view. Help set a positive example of how customers should be treated, etc.

However, in order to really promote personal growth and motivate restaurant employees, the ideal employer will offer continued training.

In a survey by LinkedIn, 94% of employees said they would remain in a position for longer if they were offered continued opportunity for growth.

What might this look like in the restaurant industry?

One option is to train employees in a variety of roles. This not only allows you to cover absences internally; it also allows staff more variety and opportunities to learn new skills.

Another is to expand your training opportunities to educate staff on the whole picture. This might mean allowing them to attend courses on the business side of running a restaurant. Next, give them a chance to learn more about the supply chain and what goes on before ingredients reach the restaurant.

Or learn more about some restaurant industry trend that you are curious about, together.

Skills learned with a vineyard, for example, can teach waiting staff valuable information about wine that they can share with guests.

They will also pick up knowledge on grape packing and transport, bringing back improved knowledge of sustainability and ideas for how your restaurant can contribute to a greener future.

An employee sent to visit a local supplier, meanwhile, can learn valuable information about produce that can be related to diners.



Prioritize workplace health and safety

Restaurant shifts can be long and demanding. If space allows it, dedicate a small, separate area in the restaurant where employees can relax properly on their breaks. It’s an easy way to motivate restaurant employees. And I bet your customers will notice the difference!

Ensure that work stations are hazard-free and that ventilation is good, and be sure to listen to staff grievances and adapt conditions appropriately according to their needs.

Also, keep an open, ongoing dialogue about what is working, and what would motivate employees more in your restaurant. Tips? Schedules? Too many managers? Too few? Overtime compensation?

The management team is responsible for the psychosocial work environment. 

According to a recent study: “Employees in the US hospitality sector experienced excessive workloads and long working hours, work pressure, time constraints, highly intense work conditions, inadequate training and protections for their health and safety, and are exposed to a high prevalence of workplace bullying “

How will your profitability be impacted if you keep your employees longer?

Saving on training costs, rookie mistakes, admin cost and time, etc. Also, your customers will appreciate familiar faces as they keep coming back to your diner, cafe, or restaurant.

A good working environment in a restaurant isn’t limited to the kitchen and bar area. The front of house area is vital too, and at the planning stage, the layout of a new restaurant should accommodate staff as much as it does guests.

Waiting staff should be able to move comfortably between tables and should feel as respected as the diners they serve. Accommodating workplace health and safety should be incorporated into the plan from the beginning.

Employees who feel that you care will not only perform at their best; they’ll also be positive ambassadors for your business.


Incentives, bonuses… and food!

How do other owners and managers motivate restaurant employees? Little things matter.

Recognizing the dedication of staff is important. And this can be planned into the business from the beginning.

One popular method is to use pre-shift meetings to talk about how things are going. Hence you can bond as a team, and prepare for the shift.

Another model commonly employed by restaurant owners is implementing an Employee of the Month scheme. This is easy to plan for, and simply involves rewarding long hours and well-performed tasks with a gift card, a prize, or a bonus payment. Get your restaurant employees to vote for who should win next month!

And another motivating factor is for employees to decide what the prize should be…

Add some fun :)

Plan staff meals into your restaurant’s budget. Allowing employees a free meal for every five-hour shift they work will keep them happy. Yummy food is a motivator! Furthermore, it will also encourage them to take breaks. This is essential if they are to avoid burnout and perform at their best throughout the day.

It’s also a stealth marketing strategy: employees who are familiar with the food are more likely to spread the word to friends and family, which can only be a plus for business.

You can even take it as an opportunity to trial new dishes and get staff feedback, further demonstrating that you value their opinion and their work. It’s also nice for the kitchen staff to get some praise from waiters, etc.


How to KEEP your restaurant employees motivated

In the busy day to day in restaurants, it’s easy for management to focus on other burning topics like admin tasks, menus, customers, financials…

If you’re using pre-shift huddles, it’s easier to get a rhythm to keep your employees motivated.

Employee motivation in restaurants is more a marathon than a sprint.

If you’re using a system to track the daily staff satisfaction in your restaurant, you can verify with data if the improvements that you introduce, have an effect. This way you can easier manage change.

Are your coworkers happier in your business? Is staff rotation positively impacted? Sick days?

The staff are the backbone of any restaurant. When you’re planning a new establishment, factor them in from the very beginning.

By planning continued opportunities for training, establishing good management practices, and designing your layout with them in mind, you’re sure to build a happy and dedicated workforce.


Interested in how to motivate restaurant employees? Measure employee morale with a Celpax survey kiosk.

Create a better workplace :)

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How to motivate restaurant employees tips
Jane Duncan. Article by Jane Duncan, a freelance writer with a decade of experience in restaurant design via all kinds of frontend and backend jobs.

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