Restaurants can no longer count on attracting customers with good food at reasonable prices. For today’s consumers, unique and inviting experiences far outweigh “just another meal.” Many in the food service industry have recognized this and crafted experiential dining to attract and retain patrons, but there is another opportunity that restauranteurs shouldn’t miss: enhancing the experience of employees.

 

When employers treat restaurant staff much like customers, the employee experience not only improves for staff, but naturally improves the customer experience. Happy, enriched, and valued staff has a positive effect on their behavior and interaction with patrons—and your customers take notice (and reward you with their business).

 

Companies that have embraced enhancing the employee experience offer many insights for other restaurants. Consider these ideas and tips to elevate your business.

 

Employee perks

Sending employees home with products, feeding them during a shift, and other perks of the job increase employee satisfaction. However, it’s just a starting place.

 

Professional development

Encourage employees to advance their skills—and their careers—by paying for training. Whether organized by your business, corporate (if a franchise or one of many locations), or another training provider, it’s motivating to staff to encourage them to make the most of professional development opportunities.

 

Personal development

Enriching your employees goes beyond just what happens inside your store. Personal development training (on emotional, social, and other personal growth topics) is another way to build into your team and improve the employee experience—with a powerful trickle-down to patrons.

 

Hands-on experiences

First-day training doesn’t have to be merely shadowing other staff around your restaurant or sitting in seminars. Locally-sourced restaurants can take new employees to the farms where produce is grown to educate them in an unforgettable hands-on experience. What relevant opportunities would you be able to offer your employees and enhance their development?

 

Access to corporate leadership

The average employee often lacks access to high level leadership and decision-makers in the company they work for. Empowering veteran staff to earn access to corporate leadership at company meetings, events, or even virtual interactions motivates employee loyalty, while also allowing them to feel—and be—heard.

 

Personalized scheduling

Customers often receive a very personalized experience when dining in restaurants, and that same courtesy reaps great rewards when extended to employees. Account for individual needs and circumstances in scheduling and time off, so that they feel personally cared for by the company.

 

Inviting employee spaces

Where does your staff take breaks? If the answer is an empty table, a dark back room, or even outside the kitchen door by the dumpsters, you can do better. Creating inviting employee spaces for breaks and fellowship improve the experience of the staff and how they view their employer.

 

A culture of growth and opportunity

Restaurant work is often a first job or a side job, but a culture of opportunity and career growth based on merit empowers employees to work hard and see positive outcomes. You’ll retain employees longer and see them achieve more for the company and themselves.

 

An enriching employee experience is as valuable for your restaurant business as merely focusing on the customer. It’s arguably even more beneficial as it will directly translate to a positive patron experience as well.

 

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