6 Surefire Ways to Improve Staff Morale

 In Bar and Restaurant

When was the last time you asked yourself: How can I improve staff morale? If it’s been a while, that could be contributing to some key issues with your business.

You may have systems in place to keep costs low and allow operations to run smoothly, but if it still seems that service is lagging, low staff morale could be the culprit. You may want to blame employees, feeling that they are unmotivated and not giving their all. Instead, be proactive and take steps to improve staff morale today.

Why is it Important to Improve Staff Morale?

According to a recent Gallup poll, only 13% of employees are engaged with their job, a number that’s barely changed since 2009. Low staff morale can be the cause of poor employee engagement. Why does employee engagement matter? Team members who are engaged in their work are statistically more productive, less likely to miss work, and will often receive higher customer satisfaction ratings. Those are three bottom line reasons to improve staff morale.

Restaurants and bar owners are all too familiar with how their team’s mood affects performance, so putting in the work to improve staff morale can have a deep impact on your business. A happy employee shows up on time, takes pride in their work, and strives to enhance your customer experience.

Decreased turnover is also a benefit of working to improve staff morale, which saves your business time and money. The service industry is notorious for a high turnover rate, which contributes to increased costs for recruitment and training. The value of a loyal employee is immeasurable. They’ll be more likely to bring in business, leave your guests with a positive experience, and help to improve staff morale.

With busy restaurant owners juggling a thousand things in a day, it’s common for the focus on your team to dwindle over time. Fortunately, there are a lot of ways to improve staff morale.

What Gets in the Way of Efforts to Improve Staff Morale?

The very first step to improve staff morale is identifying what inhibits your staff from truly shining. A few contributing factors could be:

  1. Negative Employees: Negativity can spread like wildfire. If there is an employee ruining everyone’s day, it could affect your efforts to improve staff morale. If you have even one staff member that complains more than they work, other employees may think that attitude is acceptable.
  2. “Sacred Cow” Managers: The term “sacred cow” refers to an employee that may have been promoted past their skill set. They may think they are above criticism. If you have a manager that was promoted before they were ready, chances are they will not feel confident in their role. Or, they may fall on the other end of spectrum, where you have a manager who is overconfident and responds poorly to suggestions on improvement. Neither scenario does much to improve staff morale and leads to ineffective management. You also run the risk of creating resentful employees who may not want to follow orders from someone they feel is unqualified.
  3. Understaffing: As all bar and restaurant owners know, there are certain times of the year when it may be difficult to keep staff on the team. This could be during the holidays, when hours are stretched thin, or maybe during the summer in a college town. Less staff means more stress, which makes it difficult to improve staff morale. If it’s normal for your team to be working 12 hour shifts 6 days per week, then you can expect to see more mistakes, lowered standards, and burnout.

6 Ways to Improve Staff Morale

If you’ve remedied some of the above factors, that’s a great first step! But there are other ways to improve staff morale, and create a positive work environment for your team.

  1. Evaluate Areas for Improvement: Make sure you are constantly taking stock of how the restaurant is running and ask yourself, “Is this a place I would want to work?” Be honest and make sure to focus on the areas where you can improve staff morale.
  2. Listen to Your Staff: A team that feels involved with the company will be more likely to go the extra mile. Make a point to hold a monthly or quarterly meeting to get their input on current processes and areas that can improve staff morale. Encourage employees to submit menu ideas, cocktail recipes, or promotions that you can offer to your guests. They’re your front line to what your customers want and that makes them a valuable resource for your business. They’ll feel empowered and engaged!
  3. Make your Staff Feel Valued: The saying goes that business isn’t personal, and that’s true to an extent. But if you invest in your team, they will invest in you. For example, try to honor requested time off. If you absolutely have to schedule someone, give them as much notice as possible. This simple courtesy will demonstrate to your team that you value their time, which will make them more likely to respect yours while they’re on the clock.
  4. Give Your Team Tools to Succeed: You should already have a clear prep list and standards of process in place for your servers, cooks, and managers. That is only one step of many to improve staff morale. When you bring on new team members, make sure they go through proper training. That way employees will be familiar with your quality standards from their first hour on the clock. Confirm you have the product and other items you may need each shift for your restaurant to run efficiently. A team that isn’t on the same page when it comes to protocol, or doesn’t have ingredients for a simple drink will get frustrated, and lose pride in their work.
  5. Maintain a Positive Environment: Your team will thrive in a fair, positive environment, which will reflect in your business. Treat your employees equally and establish a fair process for settling disagreements. Reward good behavior rather than focusing on the bad. If someone is doing a great job, show them thanks through an employee of the month program or a free meal for their work. A little positive competition among team members can go a long way to improve staff morale. Speaking of friendly competition, hold a Buzztime live trivia event just for your team on a day off or afterhours to improve staff morale through fun. The prizes can be gift cards or a day off. Get creative!
  6. Set the Example: If your team sees that you care deeply about your business, they will be more likely to put in extra effort to help meet your vision. This is probably the most effective way to improve staff morale. Lead by example. Take on the mantra that no job is too small. Prove this to your staff by jumping behind the bar or running orders when your team is in the weeds. Demonstrate teamwork to your staff and they will follow suit.

Making these changes will improve staff morale, but it’s just the beginning. Maintaining high morale takes work, so stay attentive. Keep any programs you set up in place and continue encouraging your staff to speak up if they feel something new needs to be addressed. And if all else fails, just ask them what they need.

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