How to reward your restaurant team with more than just money

Thursday, March 1, 2018

While most of us would turn down an offer to work for free, money isn’t the only thing that motivates when it comes to doing a great job at work. If you’re looking for other options for rewarding your staff – or you just don’t have the resources to offer big cash incentives – there are alternative ways to do it.

Skills and training

The availability of training – and the opportunity to move onward and upward in a career – are worth their weight in gold to your employees. You may have young kitchen staff who want to take a first step toward being a chef or wait staff with designs on being a wine specialist. Giving those employees the chance to move towards that goal will distinguish your business from others that don’t offer advancement and make your employees feel valued.


Yes, it does create more work for you to offer a little more flexibility to your staff when it comes to shifts. However, the ability to organise work and life to create a balance they’re comfortable with will be a huge incentive for your employees. You can structure the ‘reward’ of flexibility so that it’s available after a certain term of service or reaching a specific level of achievement, giving your team something to aim for over and above take home pay.


Although it’s more usual in a corporate role, rewarding staff with a range of benefits can make a big difference to their working experience in the restaurant business too. Childcare is a big issue for parents – especially women – so offering childcare vouchers can be a big incentive. Free car parking, health insurance or even discounts at the local gym can all help to create a feeling of being rewarded for great work.

Celebrate the small things

Birthdays, bank holidays, national days – or even just the end of a really hard weekend – there are many opportunities to deliver small rewards to your staff. It’s amazing how much a surprise cake can mean for a birthday or a card when someone is ill. Consistently celebrate small victories and personal moments and your team will feel rewarded on a personal level too.

Say ‘thank you’

It’s so incredibly simple – and yet so incredibly effective. One of the main reasons staff in restaurants become demotivated is when no one acknowledges how hard they’re working. Long hours and tough conditions can feel like a thankless task if there is no recognition of all that effort. So, if you want to make sure your team is committed and loyal, acknowledge what they do and just say thanks.