By Autumn Manning, CEO of YouEarnedIt
A recent Restaurant Opportunities Centers study revealed that the lack of benefits and flexible days off is a pervasive problem for those who work in restaurants. These people are often in school, balancing a second job, or pulling double-shifts just to make ends meet.
I know this from experience. Any spending money I received in high school came from working nights and weekends in a restaurant, and this continued throughout college so I could pay the bills. Any extra time, including holidays, was spent in the restaurant instead of with my family.
When most industries shut down for the holidays, restaurant employees are working to make sure other families have a great place to go. The ability to serve others and make great dough is almost reward enough, but feeling valued and appreciated is a key ingredient for keeping these folks going.
Creating a positive atmosphere for customers is no easy task. From the way we're greeted at the door to the cleanliness of the restaurant and the expediency of service, the all-around experience takes hard work. This means every person working in the restaurant needs to be motivated to give their all because often, it can feel like a thankless job. After all, the employee experience has a direct impact on customer service, which of course boosts (or bombs) overall restaurant sales. According to Gallup, engaged teams are 21 percent more productive, as well as key to creating 22 percent more profit and a 10 percent improvement in customer experience.
To help employees feel the love, San Diego small business success story, Karl Strauss Brewing Company, uses YouEarnedIt's mobile employee engagement solutions to recognize, reward and engage its workforce. By focusing on employee engagement, Karl Strauss is making strong progress relative to return on investment for the company by limiting turnover and employee dissatisfaction in the workplace. Likewise, by providing a platform that fits in with the pace and environment of the restaurant, Karl Strauss sends a loud and clear message to its employees: You matter to us!
The platform also allows the chain to regularly praise employees and even reward them. Here are some other innovative, but relatively low-cost ways to reward restaurant workers:
On-the-job rewards: Sometimes employees have to dig pretty deep to keep going strong to the end of the shift. That's why actions like covering their evening shift duties one night or giving employees a chance to choose their own shifts or sections for a week can be pretty effective. Even something as relatively low-cost as giving an employee a free pair of non-slip shoes can be a great way to express appreciation.
Rewards of education: Many people are going to school by day and working in restaurants at night. YouEarnedIt rewards like cash back for textbooks, money toward an advanced degree, or even an extra training class can be a great way to say you appreciate their work and support their outside pursuits. Even setting up a system to reward employees who qualify with community college credit or GED class vouchers can help them pay their bills and further themselves more long term.
Quality of life rewards: Working in the restaurant industry often comes with an inconsistent schedule. That's why rewarding employees in way that improve the quality of their lives outside the restaurant can go a long way in the appreciation department. Consider options that put the employees who serve others on the other side of being served with something like a free dinner out, massage, one-time laundry service or gas card can be a real boost to those restaurant managers rely on to make customers feel valued.