How to Keep Your Employees Engaged Today

So, your business operations have changed. Your BOH and FOH due to COVID-19 has undergone a makeover. Now what? How do you keep your staff? After having to lay off employees to keep your overhead low and revenue even, you are wondering how to keep your employees engaged today.

The answers aren’t always clear, but first-things-first, you must keep your staff motivated and positive. Colleges and universities around-the-world study the aspects of human motivation, optimism and productivity. In the restaurant world and in the kitchen, these are aspects that is the difference between a hot and happening kitchen or a hell-kitchen.

Ask Not What They Can do for You but What You Can do for Them

Give your staff perspective. Tell them what they can do instead of what they can’t do. Through connecting and sharing your thoughts and resources, you and your business will be better off. In retrospect, by being supportive and letting them know that you are all in this together, you are giving a sense of solidity. If they need to be told by you that everything will be okay, then say it. If they are having a bad day and need to step up, approach them calmly with a pick-me-up. It’s not your job to babysit. It is, however, your job to keep your team going.

Nick Palmeri, passionate restaurant owner of Gaetanos Ristorante on the popular Las Vegas, NV strip says during this time, he’s had 85% of his staff still working. Want to know how?

“Three days before the shutdown, I rallied all of my employees. I said, listen. I will work every single day just to make sure you guys are employed. We’re gonna do this. We’re gonna work as a team.” – Palmeri

If you want to keep your staff, you have to show them how passionate and important the business is to you. Your staff wants to hear from you, that you are in this together and with them. No one represents your brand more than you and your staff. If you see your staff starting to fall behind, perhaps it’s not them; it’s you.

Palmeri is a great example of how to keep your employees engaged today.

Think of Your Staff as Family

How to Keep Your Employees Engaged Today
A family gathers around the table much like your restaurant team should to share stories and work more effectively.

As a restaurant owner, you likely spend most of your time managing the ins-and-outs of your establishment. You put in the long hours and you are constantly juggling multiple priorities. So, when it comes to your staff, most of them are in similar positions. We are all in this together is the reality. An industry with a high turnover rate can benefit greatly from giving your staff a sense of solidity. If you’re in this together then act like it.

Celebrate Milestones and Special Occasions

Does your chef have a birthday coming up? Celebrate it. Did you hit your goal of 1,000 customers this month? Celebrate it. Celebrate the wins and your employees. Recognition goes a long ways. Include your staff in the big and small wins all of which will support engagement and inclusion. Surprise your dish-washer with a pastry or birthday card. Is your restaurant manager getting married soon? When everyone is winding down after a long evening, open a bottle of champagne and cheers to that. Employees are staff members, but they are also individual humans and deserve to be treated as such.

Give Your Staff an Appropriate Amount of Control

What do I mean by this? I mean setting professional boundaries but also letting go of some responsibility to give your staff a stronger sense of purpose. Take one task that is taking away a significant amount of your time and energy and delegate it to your staff. Doing so will show that you trust your staff, which is huge in the restaurant world. There is always something that needs to get done. As a restaurant owner, you have a lot on your plate. Don’t be afraid to involve your staff in tasks that you normally would do on your own. Give away some of those crumbs. How to keep your employees engaged today doesn’t always have to be in the form of a wage increase or pat-on-the-back.

Talk the Talk and Walk the Walk

You are going to be a much better owner, operator, manager, and business individual if you can match your talk to your walk. Just because you are the owner of your establishment doesn’t mean you should walk around barking orders and go MIA. Instead of having a “this isn’t my job” mindset, have a more positive outlook. A few times a month, help out where needed in the FOH and BOH. In addition, if a staff member is dealing with a personal issue, step-up. Take some pressure off of them and walk in their shoes. If it means having to wash some dishes and greeting guests, do it. I can promise you that your dedication to your business and staff will show in your bottom-line.

People gravitate towards positive people; they observe your demeanor and mannerisms. Give others a positive vision of your business and how you treat your staff. Your turnover rate will likely not be an issue if you can pull this off. Some of the best employees work in kitchens and restaurants across the country who support their staff in ways that go above and beyond the norm.

Communicate With Each Staff Member Daily

Communicate with your staff. Form that initial and important relationship

When I ask those in the restaurant industry what keeps everyone going, I often get the same answer: communication. You don’t know what you don’t know. A lot can be settled and made more efficient with communication. Advocate for and encourage communication among your staff and between you and your staff. It’s important to make this clear. If all you do is expect your staff to work but have no value in what the results from those expectations should look like, you won’t have any further development or motivation. Instead, you’ll see grey matter. However, if you make your staff aware, they’ll see the value in being both transparent and communicative. Discuss with your team what is working and what needs to be improved. Also, openly communicate with is working and what is doing well.

It’s Your Reputation and The Relationship

Pick up the skillet and enter the heat of the kitchen to make sure your business is running smoothly and your staff is happy.

If you want customers and quality staff. Think about what it would look like to put your best self forward for your staff and do that. If you want to learn how to keep your employees engaged today, be more intentional for your staff. Commit to them and show up stronger and give more in the work environment and they will reciprocate. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Create a relationship with your staff.

Be kind. Say hello. Send them tasty motivational nuggets.

Always be giving more than you are taking. Do this and you are going to have so much capital in the bank and turn that turnover rate to zero.

Don’t be afraid to roll your own sleeves up. Zero to hero.


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