Amidst the hiring crisis in the restaurant industry, employee engagement may not be the top priority for most restaurants. In terms of sales, the situation has never been better as restaurant sales are showing an increasing trend which is better than the last few years. However, keeping up with the demand for employees is becoming a critical challenge. McDonalds had recently announced a $50 incentive for people just to show up for interviews. Yes, the situation is serious but in addition to hiring, restaurants need to focus on their existing employees to ensure they don’t part ways too.
As part of the hiring strategy, restaurants are focusing on teenagers to fill the available positions. But this is easier said than done. Teenagers today are not typically looking for a summer job. They are interested in internships or extracurriculars which has made it difficult for restaurant to hire them. While employee turnover is a concern for restaurants, especially QSRs (with close to 150% turnover), a good approach to retaining employees would be to focus on employee engagement.
Is employee engagement the solution?
Employee engagement is not the only solution to the hiring crisis or high employee turnover. But at the moment, it is the most effective way to make sure your employees are retained. It does not take a lot of effort to keep employees engaged. All that is needed is for employees to feel appreciated, recognized for their achievements, and incentivized for their efforts. It’s as simple as that. However, without a proper employee engagement program in place and the added work load to keep up with the demand, most restaurants fail to implement this correctly.
Challenges in implementing employee engagement
Restaurants may have the occasional team meeting where they appreciate a few employees but this is not enough to keep the entire team engaged. For multi-unit restaurants, ensuring employee engagement is a bigger challenge as the management needs to collaborate with team members across all restaurant locations. When it comes to providing incentives, favoritism can create more problems than actually providing a solution. Some managers may provide incentives or appreciation to specific employees based on preferential treatment. This is one of the key reasons behind demotivation and dissatisfaction of team members.
When it comes to using technology, most restaurants usually try out free software or generic applications to implement employee engagement. In most cases, this does not work out well and the management may decide to keep a one-way communication which really defeats the purpose of peer-to-peer recognition. These challenges prevent restaurants from executing effective employee engagement programs and they might also be required to hold on to bad employees just to ensure the required head count in the restaurant.
5 ways to boost employee engagement in your restaurant
Implementing an employee engagement program isn’t difficult if you know how to get it done properly. Check out these 5 ways to boost employee engagement without spending a lot of time and money to get it done.
Provide a social platform for communication
Communication is key for the success of any team, especially in the current scenario where restaurants are working with limited staff and key executives have to manage work from home. By providing a social platform to your employees, you can give them the opportunity to share appreciation for their colleague’s achievements, celebrate events like birthdays and anniversaries, and also feel comfortable in communicating in an environment that they are familiar with.
Social platforms like Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp may not be the best options because you would want to keep the group social but restricted to the employees. We recommend using an employee engagement software that provides a social environment while ensuring control over who gets access to it.
Show appreciation for all achievements
Employees should be appreciated for all achievements, irrespective of whether it is a big achievement or a small task completed successfully. Appreciations are important for keeping the team motivated. It helps them to go the extra mile to get the work done despite the work load. Managers need to ensure that the appreciation comes from the management as well as from the peers. This helps to eliminate the feeling of being neglected or having a perception that some employees are getting preferential treatment.
Motivate through rewards
Nothing motivates people more than being rewarded for their achievements. The problem is, employees are usually unaware of what the rewards are and how they can be incentivized to continue performing at their best. Simply providing incentives is not the solution. You have to create a reward and recognition plan where the employees know the rewards and have clear goals to become eligible to get those rewards. A good approach to this would be to use reward points that can be accumulated and redeemed for rewards.
Imagine keeping an LCD as a reward which can be redeemed for 2000 points. The employees would be motivated to earn those points as rewards for their achievements and eventually, they can redeem it when they have collected enough points. This has also been known to create healthy competition in the team, especially when they know what goals they are chasing.
Ensure a transparent process
As discussed above, ensuring a transparent process is critical for the success of any employee engagement program. If employees feel that managers are expressing favoritism, then it can create dissatisfaction in the entire team which would result in loss of productivity and increased employee turnover. No restaurant would like to be in a position where they have to deal with either or both outcomes. This is where technology plays a key role. Employee engagement software provide the means to track all activities and can easily highlight any preferential treatment being given by managers.
Track employee engagement activities
One of the reasons why most employee engagement programs fail is the lack of tracking. You need to track metrics like employee-wise achievements, employee-wise reward points, employee-wise redeemed points, appreciations provided by managers, reward points provided by managers, and most importantly, the budget for the rewards. In addition to this, you also need to monitor employee engagement across all restaurant locations to understand the effectiveness of the program. Getting such diverse metrics regularly becomes a challenge if the data was maintained in spreadsheets or paper forms. This is why restaurants should invest in an employee engagement solution to boost the effectiveness of their initiatives.
Let workpulse help you boost employee engagement at your restaurant
The Employee Engagement solution by Workpulse encourages supervisors and managers to motivate their team members through social recognition and appreciation. It also provides a social platform for employees to interact and communicate easily. With the powerful analytics, managers can get employee-wise, team-wise, and location-wise metrics instantly and make informed decisions with respect to the rewards, transparency in the process, productivity, and employee retention.