It’s very easy to place little value on employee recognition and consider it as a time waster or unnecessary additional expense.  But this couldn’t be further from the truth. Businesses, especially restaurants, that frequently show that they appreciate their employees benefit tremendously through higher productivity, improved morale, loyalty, and better customer service.

According to a Bersin and Associates research study “companies with recognition programs highly effective at improving employee engagement have 31 percent lower voluntary turnover than their peers with ineffective recognition programs.” This statistic speaks volumes. Appreciating your employees builds a positive company culture that translates to longevity and profits. Here are five ways you can make sure your restaurant employees feel appreciated.

Peer-to-Peer Recognition

Why not involve all employees in the employee recognition process? Manager recognition is important, but businesses have found even more success with peer-to-peer recognition. Giving employees a voice and creating a weekly forum where they can speak freely about each other’s strengths and talents creates cohesiveness within the restaurant. If some employees may not enjoy being publicly praised, consider using a system that allows them to share their positive feedback with each other anonymously.

Manager recognition is important, but businesses have found even more success with peer-to-peer recognition.

Plan a Holiday Party

In office environments, holiday parties are almost a given. But how many restaurants take the time to throw a holiday party for a job well done? This can be a whole new experience for your employees and gives them a chance to connect and relax in a fun setting that shows your restaurant is willing to do something different and special.

Get Creative With Your Rewards

Try not to get stuck in the rut of doling out pens, gift cards, or coffee mugs. Make the reward more personal or more unique. Giving something someone doesn’t care about is not a motivator. If possible, try to learn more about that individual’s likes and dislikes and reward accordingly. And rewards don’t have to cost a lot of money. In the restaurant business, managers can recognize an employee’s hard work by allowing him or her to choose a preferred shift time for a week or allowing for extra breaks.

Make the reward more personal or more unique. Giving something someone doesn’t care about is not a motivator.

Take Advantage of Social Media and Websites

Most businesses these days have a website or Facebook page. Use them as tools for showing just how much you appreciate your employees.  Perhaps devote a page on your website to showcasing dedicated and hard-working employees. Or use Facebook to post the outstanding employee of the month. Not only does this send the message to customers that you care about your employees, but public recognition also makes employees feel that much more special.

Get Customers Involved

Implement a customer feedback card program where happy customers can praise a particular employee for a job well done. They can be put at the front of the restaurant or on individual tables. Customers can then drop them off in a box when leaving and the manager can collect them at the end of the day. Managers can then discuss the compliments and praise publicly at the next shift meeting. Take it a step further and collect the cards over a time period such as a month and then pass out gift cards or cash bonuses to those employees with the highest number of cards. They are also handy for including in an employee’s personnel file or using towards performance evaluations.

Retaining top talent in a fast-paced, high turnover environment like the restaurant industry gives your business a competitive advantage. Appreciating and recognizing your employees can help your business both financially and culturally. With a little investment and strategizing on your part, you can reap the benefits of happy and content employees.

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