3 Common Employee Issues & How to Fix Them in Your Restaurant

Posted on June 7, 2017 by Michelle Locke

This is the question we often ask restaurants when they contact us for training help: what’s the number one employee issue in your restaurant?

Training, for us, revolves around improving interpersonal relationships within the restaurant, strengthening culture, and reducing the amount of time owners spend micromanaging. So when it comes to issues that affect employees and restaurants, we are always looking for answers.

We compiled a list of the top complaints we hear about employees—and we’re here to help you fix them. Some of the answers in this blog post will be tough (we believe in tough love, for owners and employees alike!). Every employee has the potential to be a good or even great employee; they just need the right pieces in place.

1. Employees Aren’t Completing Side Work

This is one of the top complaints we hear: employees aren’t completing their side work tasks or if they are completing them, they’re done sloppily.

Here are a few things to consider about this issue:

  • How much time, between serving customers or preparing food, do your employees have to complete side work?
  • Are they having to stay late to complete their side work?
  • And, related to that last one, do they have responsibilities outside of the restaurant that staying late isn’t possible for them?

This isn’t to say that side work tasks being left undone is always caused by being too busy or needing to leave on time. Most restaurant workers accept that their hours can be odd and irregular. But remember: your employees are real people. Often, they are likely to be students or parents; they need to get to class, or get home to study, or they need to pick up their children from school or daycare. If a particularly busy shift leaves them in a lurch where it’s “be late to class and risk failing” or finish their side work… even the most dedicated employee will choose getting to class.

Create a policy to explain side work and exceptions for side work. If an employee feels like they won’t be able to complete their side work during a busy shift, have a procedure in place where they can alert their supervisor or manager. This will reduce frustrations among staff and improve morale, because it puts steps in place that are understanding of employee’s abilities.

2. My Employees Aren’t Upselling

If you’re noticing more and more that employees aren’t upselling, or taking opportunities to upserve guests, it’s time to address your servers process for tables. Here are a few things to consider:

  • Are they being trained on upselling? Do they receive regular menu training that includes verbiage, pairings, and more?
  • Do they have time to upsell and upserve each table? Are their constraints on time making it hard to take orders, run food, and check up on each guest? Would a food runner help?

Including upselling training in your pre-shift meetings is a vital part of ensuring your employees have quality menu training. Need some resources on training for menu pairings & pre-shift meetings?

3. My Employees Aren’t Doing Quality Checks

For restaurants, this is a big one. If your employees aren’t performing quality checks, and plates are being delivered to the wrong guests or with the order presented or cooked incorrectly, it’s a huge problem. Here are a few things to consider:

  • Do you employees have training on quality checks?
  • Is your Back of House staff properly trained on also performing quality checks?
  • Would an Expo and Food Runner team improve the communication between Back of House and Front of House?

We highly recommend including training on quality checks. It’s the responsibility of every kitchen staff member cooking food, every food runner or server delivering food, and every member of the team to notice when mistakes are made. Here’s our blog post on how training can reduce food waste. As well, here’s a blog post on why quality checks in the kitchen are so important. You can include quality check training in your written training materials, in quizzes, and in pre-shift meetings so they get reinforced at every opportunity.