Managing Restaurant Employees – Getting the Best out of your Staff



Many entrepreneurs start out in the restaurant business and unexpectedly discover that their number one headache ends up being staff and the constant hassle of hiring, firing and training them. This article looks at how important restaurant employees are and offers some suggestions for lowering staff turnover rates.

More than the food, the ambiance or the prices, your employees are the factor that will keep your customers coming back. A bad experience with an ill tempered server will drive away a patron forever. On the other hand a server with a positive attitude that truly enjoys their job will increase your business as customers will return and bring their friends.

Your policies have a lot to do with the type of employees that you can attract and keep. Of course you will want policies to be beneficial to your business but they should be employee friendly too. If your employees feel as if you truly care about their working conditions you will have very few problems with employee turnover.

Your employee handbook should present your expectations clearly and simply. Hygiene is one of the most important aspects of managing a restaurant. You should have a progressive schedule of consequences for staff not adhering to proper hand washing and other preventive measures.

How your employees treat each other is just as important as how the management treats them. It is up to you to make a standard of behavior for employees. Such standards should include rules against practical jokes, harassment or other behavior that might make an employee feel uncomfortable. It is a good investment of your time to list specific behaviors that qualify as harassment. There should be no doubt in anyone’s mind when they cross the line.

Your policies should also include explicit instructions on how staff should treat your clientele. These can be written up to form a ‘service standard’. Keep in mind that although it has become a casual society, customers want to be treated with respect. The good natured joking with the regular guy at lunch might not go over well with the elderly couple at dinner. You should stress that while some of your employees depend on tips to make their living, tips are not compulsory and they must earn them with respectful and friendly behavior as well as good service.

Make it clear, too, how to handle a rude or obnoxious customer. An employee should know that he or she has recourse if a customer is abusive and that you will back them up. Your policies should reflect this, reassuring them that they are protected. Give specific types of incidents so there is no mistaking whether abuse is taking place or the staff member is merely interpreting it as such due to their overly sensitive personality. A customer has no right to curse at your employees, to act suggestively or to sexually harass them. If you are clear on the policies and consistent with enforcing them, your staff will be happier and feel that they are valued.

Many restaurants have a policy against employees dating each other. It is entirely up to you whether you allow this behavior but never, ever date an employee yourself. Not only does it open you up to harassment charges but it can make the working environment tense and uncomfortable for everyone.

Get your restaurant off to the best possible start by setting out clear policies for your staff so that they know where they stand and feel protected and valued. Employees can make or break a restaurant so give this area the attention that it deserves. Put systems in place that encourage employees to keep working with you for the long term.

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