6 Tips for Managing Your Restaurant Employees

If you’re in the restaurant industry, you’ve likely had a hard time hiring employees over these past few years, and you already know how important it is to retain great people once they’ve joined your team. Your amazing menu—whether you’re serving foamy lattes or fantastic French onion soup—is just one of the reasons your customers keep coming back.

But your friendly service, backed by a happy and complete team of employees, is the true MVP that makes your business stand out (just as much as finding that perfect blend of gooey, melty Gruyere cheese!). With numerous restaurants, unfortunately, having to reduce hours or even close on certain days due to a lack of labour, the cost of losing even one employee is much too high.

Restaurant managers must lead employees effectively while staying focused on the employee experience. Here are our six tips for managing your employees and creating an environment where they love their jobs.


1. Make Payday Super Simple

Restaurant employees often have to balance the tax requirements of tips, and they really appreciate getting paid easily and on time. No one wants to come in after a long week to grab a cheque.

Make their pay cheques a no-brainer. Use simple payroll software, like Wagepoint, to deposit their money right into their bank accounts and give them online access to their payment details.

When tax time comes, don’t make your people have to keep track of a paper T4 (Canada) or W2 (US). Let them log in and get it when they need it. That makes you a savvy and responsive employer that’s on top of it, and all it takes is an excellent payroll service to be a fantastic boss.


2. Protect Them During A Pandemic

The pandemic that hurt restaurants has now become endemic. At the same time, people are now switching their purchases from things to services. That’s great, but gathering places still need to focus on safety.

Your employees are at the forefront as dedicated service workers, and protecting them shows them how important their health and well-being are to you. Let’s keep them safe!

Put employee health at the forefront of your effort, actively promote health measures like hand washing and disinfection, and offer additional support should COVID keep them from work. Make gloves matter in the kitchen. Let them know their safety comes first.

Should you decide to put up a sign that says your restaurant takes the health of its customers and hard-working employees very seriously, that would be nothing but beneficial. Never hesitate to require customers to take preventative measures.


3. A Free Meal Goes A Long Way

This restaurant management principle is nothing new, and it's still spectacular. A free meal when someone comes on shift doesn’t cost you much, but the benefits are massive. Is there an employee in the world that doesn’t appreciate a free meal? No!

They’ll be there early to grab a bite to eat, and you’ll be rewarded with dedicated, happy, customer-focused employees. Seriously, who doesn’t think: “That was one tasty meal. I’m going to go be awesome now”?


4. Use Positive Reinforcement

Few things produce better outcomes than positive reinforcement. It not only makes employees feel valued but significantly boosts their performance. Celebrate their successes, even minor ones, to add value to their jobs.

Positive reinforcement doesn't need material rewards to be effective and can be as simple as saying "Wow. Awesome job!"

Your positive reinforcement will make for meaningful one-on-one moments with employees. Still, successes should also be shared and celebrated with the whole team. Doing so makes that employee feel good and motivates everyone else to be their best and get a moment in the spotlight.

Should you occasionally want to hand out some movie tickets or a gift card for a job well done, employees love it. Who doesn't love gift cards?


5. Celebrate Team Accomplishments

Celebrating individual accomplishments is great, but group accomplishments can be even more fun. Have you managed to attract new diners? Is the restaurant getting tons of positive online reviews? Did the local newspaper rank you in a "Best of" list?

All those things are excellent and keep fostering business success. So go organize a gathering or a full-blown party to let your employees know that "we are doing this together." Mingle with everyone, laugh and take off the manager's hat.

Let your employees see you as an approachable manager who is delighted with them as a team. It doesn't matter if you manage a fast food restaurant, coffee shop or fine dining establishment—be that manager.


6. Let Employees Pick A Bi-Weekly Or Monthly Charity

Employees have greater satisfaction in their jobs when they know their company is socially responsible. Take a vote every two weeks for a local charity they want to help, and let your customers know they can help support the local food bank or shelter picked by your employees with a small donation.

You’re using your restaurant for social good, engaging your customers and increasing your employees’ satisfaction with where they work. Employee social causes are taken seriously and the restaurant is the conduit for them to foster support.

The business you started is now the ultimate success—a force for good.


Make Employee Retention A Priority

Your employees are incredible, and keeping them around is one of your most important priorities. It’s too expensive to be understaffed and unable to serve your customers. It’s also no secret that hiring and training someone new is much more expensive than keeping the staff you already have. Plus, you love these awesome people and their dedication.

So what is the main component of retention? Creating a meaningful and appreciative workplace. It’s easy to say but often difficult to practice.

You get to provide a work environment, social values, and experiences your team loves and respects; your retention focus will accomplish that. Your employees will know they are appreciated, paid on time, and in a happy working environment. Restaurants are gathering places in the community and have many amazing opportunities to engage with customers and employees.

These are just six tips, and many others help with successful team management. If you find a new approach that says, “I appreciate all of you”, do it. The goal is always an effective team that feels valued and stays. By retaining and cultivating staff, you’ll see personal rewards add up, including more business, greater profitability and lower stress. Most important, though, are dedicated, motivated and satisfied employees that will stay and keep making your restaurant amazing.