Three ways to value your employees | modern restaurant management

The COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t just changed the way we work, it’s changed what we want in a work environment. Millions of employees leave their jobs in search of deeper job satisfaction, better work-life balance and an exceptional company culture.

This “Great Resignation” was particularly hard on the restaurant world. In fact, studies show that the “quit rate” among hospitality workers is more than double that of other industries. This labor shortage is pushing restaurant owners to go the extra mile to retain employees as team members.

The result is a new opportunity for restaurateurs to stand out by delivering a great employee experience that makes your entire team feel valued. We’ve offered some helpful tips to improve your employee retention while creating a happier, healthier company.

Show some love!

Employee appreciation means more than just the “Employee of the Month” plaque near the staff washroom. Studies show that over 80% of employees do their best when they feel appreciated. There are many low-cost employee recognition programs to help increase employee satisfaction.

  • A small thank you goes a long way. Perhaps you had a member of your service staff who took a double shift when a colleague was sick. Write them a thank you note or send them a gift card to show them you appreciate their hard work. If you’ve had a particularly busy dinner rush, bring your staff together at the end of the day to offer positive feedback and thanks for the great work. These small gestures let your entire team know that you appreciate their contribution to the restaurant.
  • Organize corporate events. Don’t let the pre-shift team meeting be the only time your staff gets together. Host events like happy hour outings to celebrate work anniversaries, birthdays, and other important milestones. Plan a “family dinner” at another restaurant or at your home so your staff can enjoy a delicious meal with someone else cooking for a change! Surveys show that employees value “a good working relationship with their colleagues”. Getting together outside the stressful environment of a restaurant can help your employees bond, and as a bonus: it gives you a chance to show them your appreciation.


Restaurants can be busy and scattered places. It is important that staff members in the front and back of the house have clear lines of communication with you and with each other.

  • Registration. Many employees do not feel comfortable approaching their supervisor to address workplace challenges. Take the time to schedule regular one-on-one visits with your employees. Ask them how they are doing and what they think of their work. These quick, informal chats can help you gauge how your employee is feeling in their role and invite you to open conversation.
  • Provide professional development opportunities. Get to know your employees’ career goals and a clear path to higher-level jobs. Set up a mentorship program for young kitchen staff to learn from industry veterans. This can help more experienced members of your team feel empowered while giving less experienced employees the chance to learn new skills and progress towards their professional desires. You can even offer ongoing on-the-job training; like offering an informative tasting of the new beer you have on tap, or a seminar on how to improve tips to help your staff stay engaged in their jobs.
  • Build a network. Boost employee engagement with each other by creating a social media hub for restaurant staff. You can use this platform to encourage peer recognition (praise each other on a good shift), plan outings, and send out surveys so your staff can tell you what they think.

Make health a priority

Employees want to know that their health and well-being are being taken care of. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown how important health care is. These benefits are especially important in the fast-paced and physically demanding restaurant world. A recent survey showed that a stressful environment is the most common cause of turnover in the hospitality industry. Show that you care about the health of your employees, and that of their families, by setting up reliable health coverage.

Changing attitudes towards the workplace have put pressure on employers (especially restaurant owners). See this paradigm shift as an opportunity to set your restaurant apart. Use these simple, inexpensive initiatives to show your employees how important they are to you.

About Imogene T. Bishop

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