You know what you want for your restaurant. You have goals for sales, profitability, staff turnover, and marketing ROI. While all these goals take different strategies to achieve, they all have one thing in common: employee engagement. When your employees are engaged with your restaurant, they’re emotionally committed to helping you achieve your goals. They care about their work and, more importantly, they care about how their work contributes to your operation’s overall success.

How Employee Engagement Works

In an article for Forbes on employee engagement, leadership expert Kevin Kruse explains, “When employees care—when they are engaged—they use discretionary effort.” To put it more simply, they go the extra mile — for their teams, for their managers, and for their guests. Engagement starts with employees and ends with higher sales through the Engagement-Profit chain. Here’s how it works:

  • Higher service, quality, and productivity leads to…
  • Higher customer satisfaction leads to…
  • Increased sales (repeat business and referrals) leads to…
  • Higher profits for your restaurant.

How to Promote of Employee Engagement

Other benefits of employee engagement include fewer sick days, lower turnover, and higher staff morale. Sounds great, right? It is, but it doesn’t happen overnight. Employee engagement isn’t about what you say as a restaurant manager, it’s about what you do. Here are a few ideas to get your staff engaged:

Ask for their input, and actually listen. We’re not talking about just putting up a suggestion box, here. During team meetings, pose specific questions and ask for specific feedback. Take everyone’s opinions into consideration and encourage discussion. If you have an employee with a break-out idea, empower them to help implement it.

Hire the right people. Remember, you can train for tasks and skills, but you can’t train for good character. Recruit people who are enthusiastic, customer-focused, willing to participate in the team, and forward-thinking.

Train every day. Employees can’t be engaged in what they don’t understand. Make sure your restaurant training program supports the overall goals of your operation.

Tune into WII-FM. Engaged employees think beyond the paycheck, so focus on What’s-In-It-For-Me in the long-term. Establish rewards and perks that support the idea that when the restaurant exceeds its goals, everyone wins.

Only about 25% of businesses have solid employee engagement strategies. Engaging your employees not only brings you closer to your goals, it gives you a competitive advantage over the restaurant down the street, around the corner, and across town. Get engaged!