How to Make Restaurant Employees Feel Appreciated

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Do you appreciate your employees? If you’re any good as a restaurant owner or manager, the answer is yes, absolutely. After all, it’s the employees who keep your restaurant running! But here’s a good follow-up question: do you regularly show your employees how much you appreciate them?

Making employees feel appreciated is not merely a matter of good manners, but it can also improve the overall quality of your restaurant. Happy employees are more effective workers, have less turnover, and can help keep your restaurant running efficiently, which ends up making your restaurant more money over the time. So take the time to show them how much you care! Here are ten easy ways to do it:

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Train them. One of the best ways to make employees feel appreciated from the get-go is to train them properly, thoroughly, and well. Many employers overlook or brush right on by the training period, but this is unwise. Properly training employees not only helps empower them to work, interact, and “sell” better, but it shows them that you respect their time and often results in higher employee retention.

Dress them well. Offering your employees uniforms or aprons is beneficial for your restaurant in a number of ways. For one, it makes employees look polished, professional, and makes them easily identifiable to customers.

But as an added benefit, offering your employees uniforms is a great way to show that you value them. Employees will feel special when presented with their work gear, and it will give them a sense of pride in their place of work which will show through to customers.

Learn about them. Take the time to learn who your employees are. Sure, you probably asked them a bit about themselves during the job interview, but take a continued interest in who they are and what makes them tick.
Little things like asking how school is going or asking how their kids are can help foster a more nurturing work culture, making employees feel far more appreciated.

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Respect them. Respect your employees. This means respecting the time that they spend at your restaurant and not overworking them, treating them kindly, and speaking with them as equals. Don’t misunderstand: it’s fine to be in a position of authority, but don’t be a dictator. Respect your employees as human beings, and you will get respect in return.

Listen to them. If employees have ideas, complaints, or concerns, listen to them. Often, the employees are more connected to the daily goings-on in the kitchen or on the floor, and can provide valuable insights that can improve your business. For instance, if a server mentions that many customers are complaining about the noise level, that can inspire you to make changes that will improve the customer experience. Often, listening to employees can help you improve the business, while also letting employees feel that they have a voice.

Have systems in place. Have systems in place for common employee needs, like requests for time off, employee reimbursements, etc. This can not only save time, but help your employees feel taken care of.

For example, take requests for time off or requests for someone to “cover” the shift. If there is a system in place for employees to follow for such needs, there is less chance of confusion or last-minute requests which will leave you understaffed and overstressed. Having clear systems in place for common employee requests or needs can help reduce confusion and make employees happier.

Check in with them periodically. Many managers or business owners will have periodic check-ins with employees. This tradition shouldn’t be limited to offices or 9-5 type jobs. Periodic check-ins, be they scheduled or just on the fly, with restaurant employees, are a great idea.

Be sure to check in with all of your employees, from the dishwasher to the hosts and bartenders. You will get a unique perspective on the status of your restaurant this way, and you will also be showing to employees that you are thankful for the work they do and that you care about their well-being.

Give them bonuses. Reward your employees for their hard work. While a cash bonus is always appreciated, it isn’t the only way to extend a bonus. A bonus could be an employee outing night that you sponsor, a gift like a bottle of wine, or even a paid night off.

Creative bonuses are an unexpected treat for employees, who will know that their hard work has not only been noticed and rewarded. This makes employees feel appreciated and increases their loyalty to your establishment.

Feed them. A little food can go a long way when it comes to boosting employee morale. Offering a staff meal either at the beginning or end of service is a kind way to help employees work well and to feel nurtured.

If a staff meal doesn’t work in your restaurant’s setting or within your space constraints or opening hours, that’s fine. Offering staff a complimentary meal or glass of wine or a beer when they quit is another option.

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Give them power. No, this doesn’t mean that every customer has a key and can log in to your social media accounts. But what it does mean is that within reason, you assign employees responsibilities that show trust in them. For instance, you can give servers license to offer complimentary dessert as they see fit. 

When given a small permission like this, it allows employees to do some troubleshooting and problem solving while they work, rather than having to pause and ask permission at every step, which can make them feel micro-managed (and can also slow down everything during a busy dinner rush!). Giving employees power is empowering, and makes them feel more comfortable and at home working at your restaurant.


Conclusion: Small gestures of appreciation toward your restaurant’s employees can help you reap big rewards. Happy and healthy employees not only perform better at work, but are more likely to remain loyal to your establishment and continue working there for longer periods of time. The quality or lack thereof of your staff can make or break a restaurant, so make sure they are well taken care of and feels truly appreciated.


How do you show your employees your appreciation?

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