Employee Appreciation in the Restaurant Business


Valentine’s Day is one of the busiest days of the year for restaurant operators, with some concepts seeing traffic more than triple. It’s no surprise, then, that many restaurant managers and owners have a tough time making February 14th special for their own loved ones. And those may not be the only people feeling forgotten. You may be letting employee appreciation fall by the wayside as well.

A recent Gallup poll indicated that only about a third of employees feel like they regularly receive recognition for doing their jobs well. It seems that, for the most part, employees feel like their best efforts are ignored, which naturally leads to reduced productivity and poor morale. If you don’t think that negativity filters all the way through to your guests and your bottom line, think again. Here are some ideas to turn that around.

Celebrate Employee Appreciation Day

Employee Appreciation Day is to your employees what Valentine’s Day is to your loved ones – one day to make up for all the days you didn’t quite show them how much they mean to you. Observed on the first Friday of every March, Employee Appreciation Day was created to give managers an opportunity to show genuine appreciation for their restaurant teams. Take advantage of it! You can do something simple such as writing a personal note to each team member or maybe something more elaborate, such as raffling off prizes or providing free meals.

All Year Long

One day of employee appreciation won’t get you a year’s worth of motivation. For your employee appreciation efforts to impact morale, productivity, and guest service in the long term, they must be part of your culture. Make sure you and other managers practice these basic employee appreciation strategies all year long:

Set employees up to succeed. Nothing will make an employee feel unappreciated quite like being set up to fail. This is what happens if employees are expected to reach restaurant team goals without being given the tools and training to succeed.

Be fair. A busy restaurant shift isn’t like elementary school field day — not everyone deserves a blue ribbon. That being said, though, everyone does deserve respect and recognition. Find the balance that works for your restaurant team. Don’t pile on so much praise that it loses its impact, but don’t make any employees feel left out, either.

Listen more than you speak. Employees will feel more appreciated when they feel listened to. They’ll also understand the importance of their role in the company when you provide consistent and constructive feedback.

Make employee appreciation a team effort. The Gallup poll about employee appreciation revealed another important piece of information: employees want to feel appreciated by their peers as much as by their bosses. Develop a system that gives employees opportunities to show appreciation for each other in meaningful ways.

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