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How to keep fast casual restaurant employees engaged

September 10, 2015

One of the biggest causes of employee turnover in fast casual restaurants is disengagement. When fast casual restaurant employees feel undervalued, they are less likely give customers their best. Business owners who ignore employees needs are at risk of higher costs and lower profits. 

Businesses with high levels of employee engagement have greater customer experience scores. They also have higher profitability and revenues, according to a Gallup International poll.

What can you do to excite new employees about your mission?

Think positive

Let them know that they are special.  They are a combination of experience and values inherited from friends and family. They have something special to offer customers so let them know that. This is a chance for them to show who they really are with customers. Being who you are comes across as genuine and authentic. Authentic people resonate far better than those who deliver scripted lines.

Be an enabler

Our job as managers is to enable our staff to do a great job. Any time they find a barrier to their production, make it a high priority to remove that barrier. This could be as simple as relocating utensils or cleaning equipment. If you ask your staff, they will soon tell you how they can do the job easier/faster/better.

Set expectations

Employees need to know what is expected of them from day one. Clearly state the expectations, company values and what defines success for the company. Let the employee know how they can contribute to that success. Naturally your employees will become more engaged with the mission.

Care

As a business, we are a group of people working together towards a common goal. Get to know the individuals in your tribe! What are their goals? Where do they see themselves in five years? What are they struggling with right now? These sorts of questions show that you care about your employees on a deeper level. A level of vulnerability will help to grow your trust in each other. Sounds like a relationship? It is!

People skills

Train your employees in conflict resolution skills. They will need these skills in dealing with customers and their coworkers. Employees who cannot resolve their own differences take every petty incident to their manager. Teach your staff to resolve their own conflicts and they are more likely to work together as a cohesive positive team.

Feedback

Ask for feedback. Not only from your customers - no doubt you are already doing that - but from your employees. Ask, "How am I doing?" It's difficult to ask and often difficult to hear but worth it. These tough, honest conversations are where you can learn and grow the most. State the question as honestly as you can - the employee is helping you so tell them that. "I want to improve my skills as a manager. What could I be doing better? How could I make your job easier?". Let them know you appreciate their feedback and you'll get more in future.

Culture

Listen out for the stories employees are telling each other. Are they moments of triumph with happy customers? Or are they negative moments? Are they framed in a positive light? Where you can, steer conversations towards postive outcomes from challenges.

Reward

Where possible, reward your employees in a way that resonates with them. Is your Assistant Manager always talking about movies? They are a movie buff. Reward a movie buff with free movie tickets! This will mean more to them than just an extra $20 in their pay packet.

Consistency

Building trust and engagement with your fast casual restaurant employees is a long term plan. Start with a small initative - like asking for feedback - and build on it. Starting and stopping will disengage your employees. It is your commitment to keep your people engaged and excited. A great customer experience must be something you work at every day.

Your employees are your biggest asset. You have heard it many times but remember - happy employees give great customer service. Happy people are infectious. Wouldn't you like to see your customers walk out with smiles on their faces?

This blog post was inspired by a post on entrepreneur.com from JoAnna Brandi.

About the Author: Michael Pullman

Michael Pullman

Michael loves working with franchisees and franchisors to introduce cool technology. He's passionate about using data to help managers make great staffing decisions. He loves flying, climbing trees and playing in the snow.