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National Restaurant Association - Keep restaurant employees motivated

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Keep restaurant employees motivated

Maintaining motivation is critical not only for employee retention, but also for providing the best possible dining experience. If your staff could use a boost, consider the following:

  1. Encourage involvement. Solicit ideas for improvements or brainstorm together on how to solve problems. Workers who feel vital to the restaurant’s success stay engaged, and their firsthand experience could provide you with fresh insight.

    “We try to get the staff invested in our offering so they take more ownership in our brand strength and overall performance,” says Teri DeVito, executive vice president of the Greene Turtle.

    For example, the company's beverage development director is looking for new adult beverages to add to the cocktail menu and is encouraging bartenders to develop and submit their signature drinks. The winning cocktail will be featured on the Greene Turtle's next drink menu. "The bartenders really have fun with it,” DeVito says.
  2. Share responsibility. Foster a “we’re in this together” attitude by promoting mutual responsibility. If every action from cleaning the bathroom to cooking the food is valued as contributing to an ultimate goal, workers feel their efforts have purpose.

    “In my restaurant, there was one phrase that was never allowed to be uttered by my staff or me. We never said, ‘That's not my job,’” says Danny Fisher, former co-owner of Gup’s Place restaurant. “I never asked my employees to do anything I was not willing to do or had not done myself. They were not there to serve me. They were there to serve my customers, and that’s a job we all shared.”
  3. Be clear and fair. Inconsistency and favoritism can kill employee morale. Treat workers equally, and do things as promised so they know what’s expected. “The industry is ever-changing, which means that your rules cannot,” Fisher says. “Too often, I've seen good restaurants struggle because the rules are arbitrary and ineffective.”
  4. Offer support. From childcare duties to class schedules, workers often have a full plate outside of the restaurant. Consideration for those responsibilities can inspire employees to go the extra mile for you. “It’s important to to create a culture where employees know you are there for them, that you care, and that you are approachable and supportive,” says Etai Cinader, managing partner of Pounds & Ounces in New York.
  5. Have some fun. Organize a special event to break up monotony. A challenge to sell the most of a particular item or a community night with percentage of profits donated to charity can rejuvenate a sluggish staff.

    “We have server and back-of-house incentives and contests,” DeVito says. “An example is Greene Turtle Bingo, where servers and bartenders receive cards with numbers replaced with our menu items. The staff vies to complete cards based on items their customers order, with a prize going to the one who gets Bingo first.”

This content was provided by CareerBuilder.

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