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How to Keep Your Employees Happy

How to Keep Your Employees Happy

Smile: Reward, educate and recognize the employees ou want to keep.

The success of your restaurant hinges on one critical factor—the people who make it special, your employees. Yet, statistics show that half of all restaurant employees leave their jobs within the first 30 days. As the restaurant industry grows faster than the number of workers available, competition for key personnel will become more difficult.

While you're not going to keep all of your employees happy all of the time, there are steps you can take to attract and maintain a good staff.

Reward. The primary motive for working is to make money, and employees will often leave if they can make more money elsewhere. Paying your staff competitive or better wages will help you keep good employees, but you can only pay so much. To add to base wages, many restaurateurs are offering incentives such as medical benefits and other insurance offers.

With the largest part of servers' incomes coming from tips, not wages, protecting those tips becomes a huge incentive. You probably already carry business interruption insurance in case your restaurant closes due to a fire or other unforeseen crises. Some insurance companies now offer coverage that includes employees' tips as business income, so tips are covered while a restaurant is closed due to a covered loss. This is a great hiring incentive and helps ensure that your staff doesn't go elsewhere if your restaurant is forced to close for an extended period of time.

Restaurants also can offer highly valued chefs and managers personal excess umbrella coverage in the event of a catastrophic loss. This coverage gives them extra liability coverage beyond their personal auto and homeowners policies, as well as additional peace of mind. This protection offers your staff added security and lets them know that they are valued employees.

Rewarding employees has its benefits. A happy staff makes for happy guests.

Educate. Investing in employees beyond traditional financial means often successfully keeps employees long term. Training and development—from food safety programs, to management trainee courses and classes that assist in their personal development—give employees a stake in the success of the business and personal empowerment, engendering commitment to the restaurant.

With so many training courses now available online, offering training to employees is easier than ever. And classes that will improve an employee's lifestyle, not just their restaurant expertise, also prove valuable.

Many restaurateurs are meeting the needs of their employees by offering a variety of classes to help build English language skills, how to buy a first home and how to manage money. As reported recently in the Washington Post, The Capital Grille offered a class where employees heard from real estate professionals, lenders and government officials about how to get help buying a home.

Helping employees with buying a home fosters loyalty, boosts morale and helps ensure that they won't move out of the area.

Recognize. The most costeffective, yet overlooked way to reward employees is through recognition and appreciation. In a recent Workforce article, "The Ten Ironies of Motivation," reward-and recognition guru Bob Nelson says, "More than anything else, employees want to be valued for a job well done by those they hold in high esteem."

Acknowledging excellent performance is easy to do—public statements of thanks in front of co-workers or the team, citing specific examples of their contribution to the success of the restaurant and merely saying thanks can go a long way toward creating a motivating work environment.

Recognition programs such as an employee of the month award with paid days off or gift certificates can take appreciation to the next level.

An investment in your employees is an investment in your restaurant's successful future.—Mike Thomas

Mike Thomas is a product director of Commercial Insurance for Fireman's Fund Insurance Company.

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