Trying to retain employees is becoming more and more difficult for restaurant operators. According to the National Restaurant Association, “restaurant employees at the end of 2021 were down 1 million from pre-pandemic levels.” But while industry-wide employee turnover rates have made staffing challenging for the food service industry, the solution might be hiding in something as simple as boosting employee morale.
Every staff member is an investment in the business. A happy employee is a productive employee, so helping workers do their jobs more effectively should be one of the top priorities managers need to cultivate within their operations. Here are 6 ways to promote a positive work culture to attract new talent and improve employee retention:
1. Recognize and Celebrate Employee Successes
Recognizing employee successes can go a long way when it comes to boosting employee morale. Workers who feel appreciated are more likely to take ownership of what they do, feel motivated, and perform better. A designated “Employee of the month” program, a gift card, or even letting them write their own schedule for a week are just some of the ways to recognize and celebrate their accomplishments and dedication.
2. Offer Free or Discounted Meals
Everyone who has ever worked in a restaurant knows that it is a labor-intensive job that sometimes leaves very little to no time for breaks. Working on an empty stomach can be not only frustrating but also dangerous as the fast-paced, high-heat environment can take a toll on the body. That’s why making sure that employees are well-fed before their shifts can have a positive impact on their overall productivity. Many restaurants decide to offer free or discounted meals to ensure that their staff is properly nourished and ready to tackle a busy shift.
3. Invite Employees to an Outing
Giving employees a way to unwind, bond, and have fun is a sure way to improve morale. Restaurant operators can do so by inviting their teams to attend group outings and team-building activities, such as bowling, go-karting, and escape rooms.
4. Provide Regular Training
Restaurant menus often change based on the season. A great way to promote engagement in employees is to bring them closer to the food that they are preparing by providing them with the necessary training. Offering regular teaching sessions on how to prepare the items along with an opportunity to taste them is an example of that.
5. Encourage Communication
Do you let your employees voice their opinions or offer feedback? Creating a safe space for restaurant workers to communicate their needs or concerns can be a great way to boost morale as it will make them feel valued and appreciated. Restaurant managers can allocate time for that by setting up pre-shift meetings and line-ups where they communicate changes, define goals, and answer questions from the staff.
6. Outsource a Difficult and Risky Job
Working in the back of a restaurant requires intensive training as employees are expected to handle sharp tools, hot surfaces, and heavy objects. But sometimes even the most skilled employee can become injured due to a work-related accident. One of the best ways to demonstrate genuine care to your employees is to outsource a risky and unpleasant job, such as fryer cleaning. Maintaining clean fryers and changing cooking oil is one of the most difficult and dangerous jobs in a restaurant kitchen. Outsourcing the management of fryers and oil to companies like Filta is becoming more and more common as savvy operators not only understand the impact on food quality but also see an opportunity to improve employee safety and morale.
Employee turnover is a common problem across the food service industry but, while not easy, it is not impossible to overcome. By ensuring safe working conditions, a friendly environment, and opportunities for growth, restaurant operators have a better chance of retaining their employees.