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One2One Promotion: The Importance of Employee Motivation

The Importance of Employee Motivation

Enthusiastic employees are not only more satisfied with their jobs; they also deliver better customer service and higher sales.

When it comes to motivating employees, there is simply no downside. Empowering and encouraging staff members to do the best job they’re capable of helps create job satisfaction, lowering turnover in an industry that has a reputation for burning through its employees. And a happy, stable workforce not only delivers better customer service, it is also more effective at building sales and attracting repeat business.

Foodservice operators can use a variety of motivational tactics, from training and formal career-development programs to sales contests and other reward-based initiatives.
Training and Team Building
Setting high expectations and giving employees the tools they need to meet them is one of the most important facets of motivation. No matter how it’s conducted—online, through special training shifts, or through shadowing more experienced co-workers—comprehensive new-employee orientation and training are crucial.

One independent operator, in an effort to stem a rising tide of turnover, instituted a four-day paid training program that covers every aspect of operations. The session begins with a discussion of the restaurant’s mission statement, and moves on through a variety of different job skills—so employees also know what their colleagues are doing—menu tastings, information on recipes and ingredients, and even allows employees to look at their employer’s books if they’re interested. Within months of instituting the practice, service improved, tips increased, and ultimately annual turnover was reduced to just 20%.

  • Training is not a one-shot deal. An ongoing program not only makes for more valuable employees, it also helps with retention.
  • Employees who are always learning new skills are continuously challenged to grow, and consequently work better as both individuals and team members.
  • Many managers conduct regular weekly or even preshift meetings. In addition to keeping staff members up-to-date on specials, menu changes, and “86ed” items, regular meetings are a great vehicle for new skill building, such as wine tastings, discussions of trends, or an opportunity to share news about the business.
Contests and Promotions
Sales contests are a time-honored means for boosting the results of a promotion or lifting sales of specific items during slow times. Here are some rules to remember:

  • When selecting food or beverage items to promote, pick a good one—not just a “dog” you’re trying to clear out. Make sure everyone in the kitchen knows how to produce it, and that everyone on the service side gets to taste it.
  • If you’re using the promotion to test a potential new menu item, solicit server and back-of-the-house input, with the idea of making improvements.
  • Make sure contests are fun; too much emphasis on competition can backfire and foster negative relationships between employees.
  • Don’t forget the back-of-the-house in the execution of any sales promotions or contests—kitchen and bar staff will certainly be affected if a particular food or beverage item is promoted. At the very least, get their buy-in. Better yet, figure out a way to reward their importance in the overall process. For instance, rather than rewarding individual performance for selling a particular item, set group goals and allow all members to share in the “pot” when goals are achieved.
Rewards and Reinforcement
Perks and other rewards are an important part of any compensation package, so in times of economic stress when monetary rewards may not be in the cards. According to the National Restaurant Association, positive reinforcement is actually one of the most effective ways to motivate employees. This includes such simple tools as Employee of the Month recognition, calling attention in a staff meeting to an employee’s job performance or recent achievement, and using and crediting staff members’ ideas when instituting changes or new policies.

Apart from these “soft” tactics, there are other ways to reward performance without actually increasing pay.

  • Consider offering additional time off or a more flexible schedule option to top performers and other loyal employees.
  • Offer a chance to take additional training or attend an industry event.
  • Throw a party and give everyone the day off to attend—many operators bring in a crew from another location to cover the shifts.
  • Many employers offer discounts on everything from their own food and beverage items to spa memberships or admission to a nearby movie theatre.
What about selling ingredients to employees at cost, like coffee or even such ingredients as Stouffer’s® Spinach Artichoke Dip or Chef-mate® Chili with Beans for their next party?
You can also use Foodservice Rewards® to incent and reward employees. From digital cameras to sporting equipment to MP3 players, give it to staff members as a bonus incentive for a job well done. Or create an end-of-the-year employee raffle for everyone, with the chance to win a great gift that you’ve earned by participating in Foodservice Rewards.
If you’re not one of the 100,000+ members of this exciting loyalty program, go to to learn more and enroll today.