Work Culture: Creating A Place To Love Not Leave

Work Culture: Creating A Place To Love Not Leave

Most restaurants, it turns out, do not close during their first year. Forbes reports on a 2014 study that shows only 17% of restaurants fail in the first year, a failure rate lower than some other service businesses. Bar and Restaurant Success reported that 2016 was the seventh successive year of growth in the industry and that wholesale food prices were going down in that year while menu prices went up. In addition, The Motley Fool reported that for the first time in 2016, the average American spent more on restaurants and take-out than on groceries! Seems it’s a very good time for restaurants.

Let’s not get carried away, though, with the idea that success is easy or likely. By the third year, almost half of restaurants close. So, what is the difference between success and failure?

We all know the mantra that food and service make the restaurant. Imagine, for a moment, that two restaurants in close geographic proximity offer the same quality food and equally good service. Which will prevail in the competitive restaurant industry?

Certainly management practices impact the ultimate success of a restaurant — but what about differences in the customer experience? Wait, weren’t we talking about equally good service? But consider this: in one of those restaurants, employees do their job and serve their customers well, if perfunctorily. In the other, employees do their job joyfully and serve their customers so well that they leave smiling and look forward to returning soon.

And that last experience has everything to do with work culture, creating a place your employees love and don’t want to leave. A great work culture not only makes your business more fun and less stressful for you and your employees, it is critical to your competitive success. It’s just good business to be a happy business.

Your employees are your face to the public, and they are most directly responsible for creating the experience that will bring your customers back again and again. If you want your customers to leave happy and satisfied and eager to return, focus on creating that experience for your employees through the work culture you develop.

What will keep your employees happy and satisfied, looking forward to work? What do your employees want?

What your employees want:

  • Employees want you to be clear about the core values of your business so they can align with them and represent them well. This means you need to be clear about your core values and reflect them in every aspect of your business.
  • Employees want to feel that they are “going somewhere,” that is, that they can advance in your business, whether in status or increased income and benefits or personal growth.
  • Employees, like all people, experience greater satisfaction when they feel part of something bigger than themselves, whether that’s a “team” or a concept they embrace and promote.
  • Employees appreciate fairness and integrity.
  • Employees appreciate recognition and contribute more when they get it.
  • Employees benefit from well-defined responsibilities and a measure of predictability but conversely need variety to maintain maximum enthusiasm and creativity.
  • Fun and laughter not only reduce stress, but they release “feel-good” brain chemicals.

Simple enough, but how can you ensure that you are doing your part to create the work culture that keeps your employees at their best as they serve your customers? Keep in mind both formal mechanisms as well as informal mechanisms.

Formal mechanisms include:

  • Staff meetings. It’s difficult in the restaurant industry to take time for staff meetings, but they are invaluable for building a team environment in which all contributions matter. Make staff meetings short, informative, and encourage staff contributions. Maintain a positive atmosphere, and let employees know what their channel is to deal with complaints.
  • Meet with each employee privately for a written “review”. Discuss employee’s goals at work as well as employer evaluations and areas that need work. Revisit these issues at each meeting to evaluate progress toward resolution.
  • Institute a health and safety program. Healthy employees are happier employees.

Informal mechanisms:

  • Nip problems in the bud. If you spot something going on, don’t let it fester.
  • Do not allow aggression among employees, active or passive.
  • Encourage positive attitudes and cooperation.

Most importantly, remember: people who laugh together stay together — and keep your customers coming back. Find things each day to laugh about. Plan laughter into every day, and seize opportunities to find humor in your environment. It’s an invaluable tool for defusing the stress that accompanies life in the restaurant industry.

Your employees will appreciate you for the interest you show in them and the supportive, happy culture you create, and they will, in turn, engage your customers in that experience.

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15 Employee Appreciation Ideas that Won’t Break the Bank

15 Employee Appreciation Ideas that Won’t Break the Bank

We’ve all heard the phrase “Happy wife, happy life.” Well, think about what would happen if you replaced “wife” with “employees.” Typically companies rely on their employees for a lot more than they might give them credit for. Aside from expecting our employees to carry out the normal responsibilities of arriving to work consistently and on time, and requiring them to perform various duties as needed, we have to recognize that sometimes employees are the only link between whether our business thrives or not. One customer’s experience with an employee can determine whether they go on Facebook and tell everyone to use your services or whether they Tweet to millions that your product is awful.

Sometimes all it takes to make an employee love coming to work, rather than dreading it, is to show them a little appreciation. According to the national day calendar (did you know that was a thing?), employee appreciation day is observed the first Friday in March. However, you can really make it whenever you want to. If you want to go the extra mile, schedule two a year, one a quarter, or have one every time your team reaches a big goal. We’ve taken the guesswork out of it with 15 employee appreciation ideas that won’t break the bank.

1. Recognition board

We’ve all seen it before: the “Employee of the Month” plaque where one lucky person gets recognized. Well on Employee Appreciation Day, take the time to recognize all of your employees. Include a photo, how long they’ve been working for you, and a fun fact to make everyone feel special.

2. “Thank you” notes

A little thank you goes a long way, and handwriting a note makes it even sweeter.

3. Raffles

Sure, it might be too expensive to buy every employee a gift, but raffles are fun and exciting. Get a couple of gift cards or movie tickets and give everyone a ticket. They’ll feel like they won the lottery!

4. B-I-N-G-O

Like raffles, Bingo has that element of surprise that people love. Play a few rounds after work and have some small prizes to give away.

5. Special parking

Mark a coveted spot and rotate who gets to use it each week.

6. Discounts$$$

If your company has 20+ employees, chances are other businesses would want them as customers. Partner with some other businesses on the block like gyms or hair salons to offer your employees some real perks. Or just buy them an IndiCard and that’s already been done for you!

7. Pizza

It’s amazing what people will do for some free dough, sauce, and cheese.

8. Ice cream

It’s equally amazing what people will do for some free ice cream. Provide a topping bar to make it even more delicious.

9. Make break room more inviting

Install lockers, a magazine rack, a Keurig, and a few comfy chairs so that breaks are actually relaxing.

10. Have a company park day

It can be as simple as grilling burgers and hot dogs at a park or go all out and hire a DJ and rent inflatables.

11. Photo booth fun

Hire a company to set it up for a few hours one day. Post the pictures in the office and let them take home a keepsake. If it’s too expensive to hire a professional, DIY with a backdrop, fun props, and instant cameras.

12. Brag buttons

It might sound cheesy, but it’s pretty cheap to design a button with your company logo and keep them on hand so when you catch an employee being outstanding, they can wear it as a reminder of how awesome they are.

13. Birthday treats

Everyone should feel special on the day of their birth, so make sure you at least give them cards. If someone has to work on their birthday, give them a cupcake or candy bar too!

 

14. Break coupons

While it may not be feasible to give everyone extra vacation days, you could easily give them coupons for a 15-minute break that they can redeem at their leisure.

Although we’ve provided some fantastic ideas, you could also get feedback from your employees. Create a survey or poll to find out what they would enjoy. Their input will help you understand their preferences. Employee appreciation is a win/win for everyone.

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7 Ways to Make This Summer Your Best Hiring Season Yet

7 Ways to Make This Summer Your Best Hiring Season Yet

While some people look forward to summer as a time to relax, go on vacation, and maybe hit the beaches, for many others, it’s the time to look for work. Restaurants and retailers, meanwhile, need to think about hiring some great staff. You may lose some employees over the summer. At the same time, you’re ready to gear up for what will hopefully be a busy season. How do you maximize your hiring efforts? Let’s look at 7 ways to make this summer your best hiring season yet!

1. Emphasize Job Perks

Don’t forget to mention as many benefits as possible, even if they’re not formal benefits. Flexible hours, casual dress codes, and free meals are all perks that make your job listings more appealing. This is also a chance to engage in some brand building, boasting about why it’s great to work in your store, restaurant, hotel, or other establishment.

2. Make Your Job Postings Mobile-Friendly

Keep in mind that most of your job applicants are millennials who tend to access the internet via smartphone and other mobile devices. This means that it’s crucial to make your listings and the application process as mobile-friendly as possible. People scrolling through jobs on their phones are unlikely to spend much time dealing with clunky applications made for desktops. Test your listings on mobile phones and tweak them until they’re simple for mobile users to fill out.

Or, use a job listing service like, Sirvo, that does all of that for you! Signing up and posting a job is easy, SEO and mobile-friendly.

3. Make the Application Process as Painless as Possible

Along with making your application mobile-friendly, keep it short and simple. Many employers use outdated job applications that ask lots of irrelevant questions. For example, do you really need to know the address of someone’s elementary school? Longer applications discourage applicants. You can always ask more questions at job interviews. For the application itself, focus on essentials.

4. Be Clear About Who You Need

Your hiring process will proceed more smoothly if you don’t waste time interviewing people who aren’t qualified. Make sure you specify the qualifications in your postings. For example, if you need someone with at least a year of customer service experience, mention this in your ad. If the job requires people to work weekends and holidays, don’t forget to post this.

5. Look For Strong People Skills

Soft skills, also known as people skills or emotional intelligence, are primary in the hospitality industry. These are difficult to gauge on job applications. During interviews, however, the ability to spot these skills is crucial. When you or your hiring managers interview applicants, don’t simply ask informational questions. Ask them how they’ve handled challenging situations or conflicts with customers at past jobs. The way applicants answer such questions is just as important as their actual answers. Do they respond to such inquiries with confidence and openness or are they nervous or defensive? The better you are at identifying people skills, the more success your hiring process will be.

6. Advertise for Seasonal Help

Many of the people you’re looking to hire over the summer are only looking for temporary, seasonal jobs. While this is obvious, it actually helps to specifically advertise for summer or seasonal jobs and to use these keywords in your listings. Otherwise, potential applicants might assume that you’re only looking for long-term hires. If some hires end up turning into full-time, so much the better. However, you’ll get a better response to your ads and listings if you appeal to students looking for summer jobs.

7. Recruit on Social Media

If you want to get the best possible response from your job postings, it makes sense to go where your audience is. More and more people, especially millennials, are spending large portions of their time on social media sites. You have many options, whether you list jobs on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat or elsewhere. If you want to amp up your recruiting efforts, you can use paid advertising. Aside from inviting people to visit your website, you can promote job fairs. With social media, you can also recruit among your customer base. People who like your Facebook page or subscribe to your Twitter feed are excellent potential recruits.

If you don’t want to do all the heavy lifting, use an online job board that puts social front-and-center. Sirvo makes it easy for you to share your job with your network by providing share buttons on your job listing that you or your staff can easily click and share to various social networks. Or share by simply copy and pasting the job listing URL. Once pasted, the job listing will display the job title, company photo and job introduction, all of which are SEO compatible. Hooray!

Follow these tips and trick and we’re sure you’ll make this Summer hiring season the best yet! 

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Making Work Meaningful: 15 Actionable Employee Retention Strategies You Can Use Today

Making Work Meaningful: 15 Actionable Employee Retention Strategies You Can Use Today

A series of Gallup Polls finds that only about 30% of American workers are engaged at work. That, of course, means that 70% are disengaged. Think about that for a minute…70% of people who go to work every morning aren’t really there. They spend the majority of their waking hours doing something that isn’t meaningful to them, that doesn’t stir their passion or interest.

In a 2010 review, Brent D. Rosso, PhD, and colleagues noted that finding meaning in one’s work has been shown to increase motivation, engagement, empowerment, career development, job satisfaction, individual performance and personal fulfillment, and to decrease absenteeism and stress.” (Research in Organizational Behavior, 2010)

With benefits to an employer like these, it’s clear that when employees experience work as meaningful, they perform much better — yet 70% of American employees aren’t engaged at work, which means they don’t find their situation meaningful. This, then, is your guiding principle to keep your employees: create an environment that gives them an opportunity to find meaning.

Using that as our guiding principle, here are 15 Actionable Employee Retention Strategies:

  1. Set clear goals. Set up goals by the day, by the week, by the month and year to year. Communicate these goals regularly. Make slogans out of them. Post them as friendly reminders. Don’t drop these goals on employees from above, rather find ways to engage your employees with them, even helping create them.
  2. Allow autonomy. Your employees are adults. Adults like to exercise their brains. They like to be trusted. If they know what their job is, what their goals are, they want to do their jobs and accomplish those goals. Let them. Don’t micromanage.
  3. Provide sufficient resources and time. Make certain that the resources and time are sufficient for an employee to do their jobs and accomplish goals. Let them feel the sense of achievement and satisfaction that comes from doing a job well. Yes, commercial kitchens are high-pressure environments, and in a busy restaurant, things can really move fast. Some may not be suited to that environment no matter how many resources you provide, but they will quickly weed themselves out. For those who want to be in this business, in any aspect of it, whether making a gourmet meal, serving tables or busing, be sure they have what they need to do their job and do it well.
  4. Help with the work. That’s right. Jump right in. Not all the time — but every once in a while during those busy moments when you can see your people need an extra pair of hands, roll up your sleeves. Sometimes helping with the work is about showing an employee how they can work more effectively. You can mentor them.
  5. Learn openly from problems and successes. Sometimes the things you do as an owner work, and sometimes they don’t. Acknowledge it when things don’t work as well as you hoped, and learn from both problems and successes. Approach your work like a scientist, observing and making fact-based, result-based decisions. As you model rational, thoughtful behavior, your employees learn to do the same.
  6. Allow a free exchange of ideas. Free exchange is critical, especially in the restaurant business. While your customers enjoy familiarity, they also like new things, surprising things — and there’s always room for better ways of doing things. Provide times and opportunities when employees can brainstorm about particular work-related issues.
  7. Respect your employees. Require that they respect each other. It’s hard to encourage an exchange of ideas unless everyone feels comfortable to share those ideas. Respect is the oil that keeps that creativity machine running smoothly.
  8. Recognize their achievements. When employees meet important goals, recognize them. When employees go above and beyond, recognize them. When employees reach milestones in their personal lives or milestones in their professional development, recognize them. If an employee has some special talent or skill, find a way for them to put it to work for you.
  9. Offer encouragement. Be aware of what’s going on with your employees. If one seems hesitant or uncertain, don’t just ignore that or dismiss it. Offer a word or two of encouragement. It could be just the thing that’s needed to let them take next steps toward growth and satisfaction.
  10. Offer emotional comfort. We all have a bad day or a bad moment now and then. Of course, you’re not there to be a therapist or a mommy, but a hug or a smile at just the right moment means a lot. It will let employees know they are more than an anonymous functionary.
  11. Provide opportunities for affiliation. Find ways to cement valued employees’ relationship to your restaurant and to the industry in general.
  12. Provide opportunities for growth. Do you have a waitress who would like to learn some knife skills? Maybe you’ll be really glad you provided the opportunity one of these days when you’re short-handed. Is there a class that speaks to a employees’ interests that will make them more valuable to the business? Send them.
  13. Provide challenges. We all resist leaving our comfort zone — but when we can rise to a challenge, it feels great! Accomplishing something new, stretching a little and finding success, maybe even finding something we’re really good at or really enjoy that we didn’t know about before? It’s great! Keep your eyes open for ways you can challenge your employees, pushing them to take steps forward, try new things, develop new skills.
  14. Encourage creativity. That means you welcome a free flow of ideas, respect your employees and require them to respect each other, offer autonomy and encouragement.
  15. Plan regular performance reviews. The best way to be sure you and your employees are on the same page is to plan regular, friendly performance reviews. Take in a template for the meeting, and fill it in as you visit together. Be sure you both sign off on the notes. Keep these notes on file, and bring them to the next meeting. Include a conversation about your employee’s goals in each meeting so you can review progress toward them. Make it clear these meetings are a time for employees to share any concerns they have in a non-punitive environment. It’s a time for you to share your concerns about job performance with an employee and set out some measurable objectives to review at your next meeting.

In a restaurant, you’re in an industry where people value good food. Be open to ways your employees can join that special society even if they’re not chefs. Yes, everyone has their own area of responsibility, but it’s good for everyone to have the big picture, to know how to handle more than their own area occasionally — because one of the best ways for employees to feel engaged at work is knowing they are part of a team that values who they are and what they do.

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Good Terminating Practices For Restaurants

Good Terminating Practices For Restaurants

The sad truth is that sometimes employees don’t work out. Maybe restaurant work just isn’t for them. Maybe you can’t afford them. Whatever the reason, at some point, you will have to fire an employee, and doing so opens you up to all sorts of complications. Not only is it always hard on a personal level, but there are laws regarding the firing process. So, how do you do this in the most tactful, lawful and useful way?

1. Remember the Law

In most states, employees are considered ‘at will’ unless otherwise stated. This means that, unless you told the employee that they will be employed for a certain amount of time or that you would only fire them for a ‘good’ reason, you can fire them whenever for pretty much any reason. There are exceptions that are considered illegal, and they are:

  • joining a union
  • age, race, national origin, religion, gender, physical disability, or sexual orientation
  • pregnancy
  • protected political activity
  • whistleblowing or generally refusing to comply with illegal situations, such as unsafe working conditions or wages that are below the minimum.
  • refusing to take a lie detector test

There are other reasons that you can’t use, but they change by state. The important thing to remember is that you need to tell everyone from the start, and have written on all relevant paperwork, that employment at your restaurant is ‘at will.’

2. Administering The Pink Slip

It is a good idea to have a written process for disciplining and firing employees in your employee handbook. It should be flexible enough so that you can respond to an emergency, but clear so that it can be administered evenly. Basically, if you want to give one employee a warning before firing, you should have it written that the employees always get one warning before firing. Be as even-handed as possible, and follow the written protocol as closely as you can. A person should read the handbook and sign it when hired so that they have ample warning.

It is important to document the process and your reasoning for firing people. You want to have something to show outsiders that you are terminating someone for legal reasons and that no one has any grounds to complain. Give them a termination letter outlining what will happen. It never hurts to have the employee you are terminating sign an employment release form, either. It serves to give everybody a clear idea of what their rights are and what they agreed to. It is also yet another way to keep employees from suing later: they signed an agreement saying they were fine with what happened.

You don’t need to make a scene about firing someone, and it is, in fact, best to keep it short and simple. Tell the employee the bad news upfront in a professional and empathetic matter. Give a short explanation, but avoid going into detail or trying to justify your decision. It only invites arguments and gives an employee something to work with if they want to explore legal actions. Try to be as discreet possible and make sure you have their supervisor and manager present when the person is being informed so that the employee sees that it was a group decision. There really isn’t a good time to fire somebody, but if you can, do it as quickly as possible and in a way that doesn’t allow the fired employee to interact with other employees right after termination. This can go a long way toward making a smooth transition. Many recommend the beginning of the shift.

Pay your former employee what they are due within the time frame allowed by your state. Are they due vacation time? Did they work three days into the new pay period? Give them what you owe and tell them if they are eligible for unemployment insurance. They may be eligible for continued health insurance, too, if you have more than 20 employees and provide health insurance. You must give them the chance to keep their coverage, provided they keep paying their premiums. Remember to get any company property that you might have given them, reimburse them for any expenses they went to for the company, and give them a contact number for questions about benefits.

3. Afterwards

Afterward, if they want letters of recommendation, it is best to remember: “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” If someone left the company on bad terms or got fired for serious reasons and a future employer asks about that person, only reveal the dates of employment, salary and job title. Otherwise, you are open to defamation charges.

You can offer to help someone find new employment, and it is a good idea to provide some relief in the transition. You are not obliged to provide any type of severance package unless you promised one to the employee or it is in their contract, but if you normally provide some benefits after firing, you will find it easier to keep the former employee’s good will.

Last but not least, make sure you have someone ready to take over the fired employee’s position and arrange to ease the transition for the remaining employees. You don’t want a stoppage in work.

Even the gentlest of firings are unpleasant. Follow these tips to make it ‘merely’ unpleasant.

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In the aftermath of the horrific mass shooting in Las Vegas, it’s important to refresh yourself and your staff on the best practices that have been in place for many years.

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Experience Sirvo for yourself

Sign up now to find hospitality jobs and hire top industry talent.