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Six Ways To Celebrate and Recognize Your Team

Picture this: You have an employee, let’s call her Rachel. She’s been nothing but great to your restaurant these past two months; you’ve seen her mentoring new hires, using her HotSchedules app diligently to pick up shifts for her co-workers, and you’ve been getting rave reviews about her service from customers. To reward her, you […]

Picture this: You have an employee, let’s call her Rachel. She’s been nothing but great to your restaurant these past two months; you’ve seen her mentoring new hires, using her HotSchedules app diligently to pick up shifts for her co-workers, and you’ve been getting rave reviews about her service from customers.

To reward her, you buy her a giftcard to her favorite store (she’s a big Target fan), and post her picture on your restaurant’s Instagram profile anointing her your “Sales Superstar” of the month. After the celebration, you overhear one of your other employees asking another, “what can I do to get this award?”

Play is Important!

Play and recognition are an often overlooked, but critically important part of building a great place to work. Your employees work hard every shift and there are going to be times when they get frustrated. Without some play in the workplace, your culture could go from fun to something more ho-hum.

Employee recognition is one part of the fun. Even the biggest introverts appreciate a pat on the back. Alas, recognition isn’t always executed in the real world.

A study found that 39 percent of employees felt underappreciated at work and 77 percent said they would work harder if they were better recognized. What’s even crazier than that is 65 percent of Americans (!) reported receiving zero recognition during the past year. Is the lack of recognition a reason turnover is so high in the restaurant industry? It’d be hard to argue otherwise.

To be fair, work is not always going to be fun. And play isn’t just about parties and booze. Play is about creating programs and regular activities that engage your employees and help them enjoy their work and bond with their teammates.

Ideas to Celebrate and Recognize Your Team

You don’t have to break the bank when creating ways to recognizing the hard work your employees do day in and day out. Restaurant consultant Donald Burns told HotSchedules recently that when he managed restaurants, at the end of every shift, he made sure to shake the hand of every team member and give at least one compliment. It wasn’t just any compliment either. He made sure to recognize each person for a specific contribution to the night’s success (or in some cases, avoiding disaster.)

Here are some other ways can you inject some fun into your workplace and celebrate all that your employees do:

1 Go on an outing after hitting sales goals

Getting out of the restaurant is a great way to reward your employees for a job well done, but also a good way for them to establish better relationships with one another. Take your team bowling, mini golfing or an amusement park. Take your managers out to a restaurant of their choice (that’s also within budget) and enjoy an easy night off.

2 Make your staff meetings fun

Are your staff meetings getting a little monotonous? Spice them up with something unexpected and do it in a snappy way. Invite outside speakers to come in and talk during staff meals and then attend your staff meeting.

Change the environment. Hold the meeting at the bar or if it’s a pretty day take it outside. Have a weekly “bucket fill” and ask the team to thank someone else on the team for jumping in and helping out. It sounds silly, but before you bring it in for a huddle, ask for one positive thing that’s happening. It can be anything, work or personal. Did someone get engaged? Get a new dog? Did they pass a test or start a new workout regime. It doesn’t have to turn into a long discussion, but it does get people interested in what’s going on in their team member’s worlds outside of the restaurant.

Recognize that your employees have a family outside the restaurant. Once a quarter close the restaurant and let your employees bring their spouses or children to a staff meal, or host an event called “family time” where spouses can interact with one another and children can play or feast on the newest menu item.

3 Do some good outside the restaurant

Work isn’t the only thing your employees do day in and day out. Figure out what non-profit organizations your employees support and create a day where a percentage of your proceeds goes to that organization. Maybe they have passion projects related to helping your business? Give them time to create those projects and flush out ideas. Who knows, that creativity could come back to benefit your restaurant!

4 Create an online hub to celebrate their accomplishments

Sometimes employees get so busy they forget to give kudos to one another during their shift. HotSchedules allows you to create an online hub where employees can communicate with one another and provide those missed congratulations they forgot to give during the shift. It might be a tad late, but it still leaves a great impression in an employee’s mind.

5 Reward them for tenure

The restaurant industry is a high turnover business, but you already knew that. Create a way to recognize employees who’ve made it to significant work milestones in your restaurant- give an employee 1 day off for having spent one year at your company, 2 nice bottles of wine for two years at your restaurant, a watch for 5 years, and so on. I knew of a restaurant where they gave personalized bobbleheads to employees who made it to three years of employment with the company. Right after employees hit the two-year mark, they started making predictions at what their own bobblehead would look like!

6 Recognize your team on social media

It sounds small, but showing off your team members personality and how they contribute to the team’s success on social media can go a long way!

Did your chef just get a feature in your city’s monthly lifestyle magazine? Take a snap and share it on Instagram! Have your line cooks been prepping bosses lately? Share it out! Not only does it feel good to get recognized online, it shows your fans all of the behind-the-scenes action.

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