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Four Key Secrets to Employee Happiness

With the uncertainty in the economy, consumers are looking for ways to cut corners and save. We want the best products for the best prices. Restaurant owners and managers are consumers, too. At the top of their most coveted products list are great employees who are willing to work for as little money as possible.

Restaurants have one of the highest rates of employee turnover.  This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but increasing employee retention rates could prove to be beneficial for all parties involved. So how do you keep employees, and better yet: keep them happy? I’ll tell you how—and you’ll be glad to know that these suggestions have very little to do with the number of zeros on their paychecks.

  1. Learn your employee’s names already: Seems like a no-brainer, right? Well, I once worked for a chef who called me “skinny white girl” for the entire year that I cooked for him. You’d be surprised how many managers and executives in the restaurant industry fail to see the importance of simply learning the names of their employees.  On the other hand, I worked for a gentleman who called my by name every time he saw me, and it made all the difference in the world. A happy employee feels valued, and the simple act of learning names is a great place to start.
  2. Start having family meals: Family meals may seem like a waste of time, but bringing your entire staff together for a pre-service meal is an opportunity to build a sense of community and kinship. It’s the perfect time for announcements, discussing new menu items, and sharing ideas. Happy employees are well fed and have a sense of belonging. Family meals provide both.
  3. Celebrate individual successes: Everyone needs a pat on the back every now and then, and employees will respond to recognition. Even something as small as a “hats off” at family meal is enough to motivate staff members to continue to work hard and to achieve. Financial bonuses are also helpful incentives.
  4. Communicate, Communicate, Communicate: In any environment, it’s important to have open and honest communication among staff members. As important as it is for you to be candid with your employees about what is happening, it is equally important to listen to your staff. You don’t necessarily have to follow their advice, but happy employees are able to openly express their ideas and concerns to their supervisors.

These are just a few of the tactics that I have seen succeed during my years in the restaurant industry, but I love hearing about what works for others. If you have more ideas about how to keep your employees happy, please feel free to comment below.

-Mary-Claire Alford