Your crew is a key ingredient to a growing and thriving restaurant. Many hospitality workers cite recognition and appreciation as the top reasons for job dissatisfaction.
Employee retention must be top of mind if you want to minimize costs while creating world-class guest experiences.
National Hospitality Workers Appreciation Day around the corner, there’s no better time to acknowledge their daily hard work. In this guide to staff appreciation, we put together 11 ways to praise your team on this special day. Workers feel underappreciated, and restaurants are paying for it
As costs continue to rise in the coming year, one of the top causes restaurants deal with is staff turnover. According to JOLTS data from the
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, restaurants experienced an average turnover rate of 76.3% in 2023. Additionally, replacing frontline restaurant staff costs an average of $5,864 per hire, according to The Cornell University Center for Hospitality Research.
Luke Fryer, CEO of hospitality workforce management firm Harri, warns that despite finances, many restaurants struggle to find the right talent due to the increasingly tight labor market. It’s essential to target improvements with the highest impact—your current employees.
Your employees are the ones propelling your performance day by day. When they start feeling underappreciated, your restaurant suffers. Several
industry voices claim that employee retention, rather than continuous hiring, is the secret sauce to profitability in the restaurant business.
Part of embracing employee retention means cultivating a work environment where your employees see a future for themselves, where they feel they can grow, see their efforts recognized, their success celebrated, and their potential nurtured. How to show appreciation for your staff
Let’s pause and reflect on the importance of creating a culture that values and appreciates its employees beyond National Hospitality Workers Appreciation Day. This guide will help you do just that – show appreciation for your crew on this special day and every day.
1. Kindness as a core value
Kindness can be contagious. Just imagine the good vibes a handwritten note acknowledging individual contributions can generate. It’s a small gesture, but it can help create a chain reaction of positivity in the team morale. Make sure you’re listening to what makes each person one-of-a-kind, and
speak to that uniqueness. 2. Employee recognition programs
Creating such programs can be pivotal in acknowledging and rewarding outstanding contributions to your business’ success. This can vary from spotlighting exceptional customer service acts to recognized efforts in team projects. Get creative, think out of the box, and make it fun and engaging for your team. Intention and thought will go a long way.
3. Routine public recognition
Praise is powerful, especially when delivered publicly. Create avenues for systematically praising employees in front of staff, customers, or on your social media platforms. It’s a great way of showing everyone the outstanding personalities who make your restaurant thrive. It makes them feel seen, valued, and indisposable.
4. Surprise treats and gifts
random act of generosity, such as treats or small gifts, can go a long way to surprise and delight your staff. Doing this regularly can be an immediate morale booster, making peers feel appreciated and valued. Make sure you’re putting thought and intention into it, no matter how small the gift is; the importance lies in them perceiving your goodwill. 5. Milestone celebrations
Recognize and honor your employees’ work anniversaries and personal milestones. These occasions create
pathways for emotional bonding and long-term support for the restaurant. Put a calendar up, make sure it’s in everyone’s sight, and get personal with it. The more specific you get, the more seen they’ll feel. 6. Inclusive decision-making
Encourage inclusive decision-making by involving staff in menu planning or operational changes. Also, consider granting some staff discretionary decision-making such as a “
surprise and delight” budget for every service.
Such empowerment can increase job satisfaction and a sense of dedication to their work. Don’t just make them feel part of the project. Allow them to make their own decisions and be a part of it.
7. Team building activities
Arrange bonding sessions outside the work environment. Outings, games, contests, or events can provide staff opportunities to connect personally while enhancing collective team spirit. Take the time to feel the team’s vibes. It’s less about how much money you invest in the activity but how much thought went into the project.
Meat lovers? Throw a barbeque. Game fanatics? Escape room. Avid partiers? Throw a chill gathering and let them bring a friend. The possibilities are endless.
8. Emergency support funds
Establish an emergency support fund to offer financial help to staff during personal crises. It’s a
valuable signal of an organization genuinely caring for its employees beyond their work. And if the time should come to use it, that employee will never forget your help. Gratitude is a powerful emotion; harness it. 9. Transparent communication
Keeping your employees in the loop about business health and changes can lead to more engaged and devoted staff. This shoots down rumors and makes everyone feel part of the restaurant’s journey. Creating transparency in communication increases a sense of inclusion and helps them feel more respected.
10. Feedback mechanisms
mechanisms for anonymous staff feedback, regular meetings to hear suggestions and concerns, and one-on-one meetings to discuss progress and well-being. Being able to voice their opinions can make employees feel valued and heard, boosting their work efficiency. This shouldn’t be just a pantomime: address as many concerns as possible, show them you care about their opinions, and see how empowerment makes people give their all to a project. 11. Professional development and mentorship opportunities
Demonstrate investment by offering
training and advancement opportunities. Think about rolling out courses on soft skills like time management while igniting their passion for constant learning and growth. This will not only improve their commitment but also—hopefully—positively impact performance. 12. Performance-based compensation
Offering monetary rewards for exceptional service or meeting goals can be a significant motivating factor. It tangibly displays appreciation for their hard work and dedication, motivating your team to drive your business toward success.
Everyone enjoys a job well done and an earned reward. These people are here to earn a living, so don’t shy away from putting extra money in their pockets when they give that extra effort.
Making recognition and appreciation part of your DNA
While balancing cost-effectiveness is crucial, consider how to take a more proactive approach to show appreciation for your employees. Look for cues, listen to feedback, and be aware of what’s working to help boost morale and employee retention. Ensure your team knows they are a priority, their work is appreciated, and they’re heard.
Change may not come overnight, but every step forward counts. Treating your staff with kindness, honesty, and gratitude means they’re more likely to provide better service, which translates into happier customers.
Employee appreciation transforms the ordinary into the extraordinary. It’s about changing from being a place where people come to work into a place where they feel inspired to give their best.
Want to see how voice AI can empower your staff to do their best work? Book a 10-minute demo to learn more about Slang.ai.