3 Steps to Improve Employee Morale

Posted on February 14, 2017 by Michelle Locke

Employee morale can make or break your restaurant. This isn’t a new topic for us. Employee morale is one of the most important aspects of running a restaurant. In a webinar, Joe Erickson from RestaurantOwner.com told us that restaurant owners and managers should put employees first—so that employees can ultimately put customers first. It sounds backwards, especially when we’re so used to telling ourselves to put guests first, but focusing on employee morale and your restaurant’s culture can change your restaurant.

We’ve written before about losing your best employees... which is often a direct result of low morale. We’ve also covered improving your restaurant’s culture not just once, but twice: you can read about restaurant #SquadGoals here and tips for improving culture here.

We’ve also written about how to fix employee morale before.

Restaurant culture and employee morale are just important enough, however, to keep writing about it. We wanted to share 4 steps you can take today to improve morale in your restaurant.

1. Check your own attitude.

The truth is, a positive environment starts with you: the owner, the operator, the manager. Make sure that everyone in management is having a positive attitude. A great example of this is the coffee chain Dutch Bros; they are committed to being positive workplaces that spread positivity and kindness throughout the community. And that’s not just words, it’s reality. Being a Dutch Bros customer myself, I know they only hire the friendliest workers, starting with management.

2. During pre-shift meetings, ask what you can improve.

Do your employees feel heard? The truth is good employee morale also includes making sure that you listen to your employees and take their concerns and opinions to heart. Has an employee been suggesting a change in the restaurant for weeks? Have you thought about it? Discussed it with them?

If an employee suggests a change, usually they aren’t suggesting it just to be difficult; they’re making that suggestion because they know it will improve the way your restaurant runs. So why not pay attention to it? At pre-shift meetings, ask if employees have any feedback about how things are going in the restaurant and write down every single suggestion.

3. Take your employee’s side.

If you’ve noticed a difficult customer, back your employee up; if a customer decides to claim your employee purposefully did something wrong (like delivered the wrong dish or purposefully added an ingredient they didn’t want), take your employee’s side.

Reinforcing that customers can treat your employees however they want (including like trash or like servants) does not encourage your employees to do an excellent job; in fact, it encourages them to do the opposite. If customers can treat them like garbage and you take the customer’s side every single time, then why should they try hard to make a guest happy? Put your employees first so they can take care of guests with the knowledge that you’re in their corner.