If you have been to the movies lately, you may have seen a trailer for a film called Horrible Bosses. Well, I haven’t seen it yet but from the trailer and descriptions, I get the gist, as should most restaurant owners. The movie reflects a larger reality in the American workplace, that employees are not happy with their bosses (more than ever). A worker’s dissatisfaction with their relationship with their manager has a profound effect on business. A Gallop poll identified that this is the main reason an employee leaves a job. And it is also the main reason why an employee stays.

Turnover is high in America, incurring astronomical costs. For restaurants, turnover is exceptionally high, even in the current economy. Some may argue that historically restaurant staff, particularly servers, have only used working at a restaurant as a stepping stone to other professions. Although that may be true, many of the staff don’t leave for a different industry but for a different restaurant. As a result, the restaurant who is unable to retain their employees is hit by the high cost of finding replacements, which decreases productivity, service, and quality while increasing expenses. It’s a lose-lose for restaurants.

Of course, restaurants can be more discerning when they hire staff, but even the most vigilant attempts cannot predict what the relationship will be between management and the staff member. Restaurant bosses, including owners of independent restaurants, should consider their treatment of employees beyond their pay, as wait staff rarely receive raises and other than hours, correctly interpret their pay based upon tips. Loss of managers, supervisors and essential kitchen staff (who normally are in the restaurant industry for the long haul) can cause particular havoc as many of their skills take a lot of time to master. And nothing replaces when someone ‘knows the ropes’. When taking all the factors, focusing solely on pay, or gratitude for a job, is not a strategy to retain staff. So let’s finds some strategies as it takes a little thought as to not lose control of your restaurant and still have good relationships with staff.:

  1. Listening to Employees
    If a staff member cannot talk honestly with supervisors, problems that can be solved easily go unattended, and can become disasters. Also, your staff members are the eyes and ears of your business so ignoring their observations is choosing to go blind and deaf. In general, other than mundane instructions in conversations with staff, a manager should do much more listening than talking; otherwise, the best ideas and the worst problems slip under the radar.
  2. Devoting Time to Employees
    Managing the restaurant’s books are important. Marketing the restaurant is crucial. Maintaining quality and smooth operation can never be neglected. But your staff makes or breaks restaurants. Rude servers or resentful kitchen staff can sabotage relationships with customers. So talk with your employees. Make it a point to spend 10 minutes each month with every member of your staff privately. Find out their concerns, their professional plans and their work situation, and explain your decisions (when it comes to hours, etc.). People are not machines, and without attention and interaction, they lose focus and motivation.
  3. Limit Personal Lives
    You’d think that talking about personal lives at work would help employee relationships. But unless you have spent many years working beside that person, they know you have a minimal interest in what’s going on, and they don’t care about your life (or how much you work). It really throws off the balance and pretends there is a friendship when one doesn’t exist. If something personal does not relate to your staff member’s work in some way, it’s none of your business (and it’s not your business) so don’t waste your breath.
  4. Thank The Staff
    Most restaurant owners are not abusive to their employees. But I’d wager to guess that most restaurant owners do not acknowledge a job well done enough. People in all jobs are looking for meaning, and money doesn’t in itself do it. In contrast, social approval has a dramatic impact and can influence future behavior. In some way, employees want to please their managers. Additionally, staff need to know where they stand so they can evaluate their own work and if necessary, commit to working harder or smarter.

Restaurants are businesses. But they are social businesses where the interactions between employees, managers and employers decide the future success of a restaurant.

Check out this article on team building too.