CPG Knows Food: Our Top 3 Tips on Engaging Restaurant Employees

CPG has a wide range of industry experience through our diverse client list, from airlines to cosmetics to restaurants and everything in between. But we’d like to take a moment to focus on the latter category, the restaurant industry, and the critical role employee engagement plays within it. First, let’s add some perspective. The National Restaurant Association’s 2016 Industry Pocket Factbook shows that there are currently around 14.4 million people working in restaurants, and that number is projected to grow by an additional 1.7 million in the next 10 years. Through the hard work of these employees, the commercial restaurant industry as a whole is projected to finish this year with a total of $720 billion in combined sales. Billion with a B. It’s an impressive number, but it also means there’s a lot on the line. A large majority of restaurant and QSR (quick service restaurant) front line employees are in their late teens and twenties, and most fall into the tail end of the Millennial generation. According to Gallup, Millennial turnover costs the U.S. economy $30.5 billion annually. This is a generation prone to seeking greener pastures, so it’s more important than ever to keep them engaged. Let’s look at some proven methods to break through the noise and inspire your restaurant employees.

3 Ways to Engage Your Restaurant Employees:

1. Train Well and Touch Base Often

We all understand how important initial training is. This is where your employees learn the ins and outs of their new role. They learn to work the register and prepare food, but what’s especially important for them to learn is unparalleled customer service. The way customers are greeted and served is not only vital to success, but also to your culture. Make great customer service a way of life at your brand, and let your employees know from their first day how important it is to your core values. Even the best employees have off days if they begin to feel disconnected from the importance of their work, so make sure energy remains up by reminding them of this importance! Include frequent learning sessions and let employees ask questions and interact.

2. Bring Technology to the Forefront

If you haven’t integrated apps or other digital learning platforms into your workforce, you’re not meeting employees where they already live. Technology makes our lives easier everyday, and while having an app for ordering is great for customer convenience, don’t forget that your employees want this as well. Training and internal learning apps provide your people with easily accessible and digestable content – plus it makes things a lot more fun and interactive with gamification. There are a million ways to customize these tools, and when you use digital platforms, it becomes easier than ever to gauge employee feedback and tweak when necessary. When designing this kind of seamless technology for our QSR clients, we work closely with our partner agency, RevUnit, who specializing in app creation and other immersive digital.

3. Unite Your People

It may not be plausible to bring all your front line associates together – the numbers are most likely too high and availability limited. But, you can bring together general managers and other leaders throughout your organization who can learn together and cascade the messages down the ranks. It is key to engage at every level, and your leaders have been chosen to lead for a reason. Bringing leaders together in person is a great opportunity for them to meet peers they may never have crossed paths with, and a connected organization is a strong one. When you bring like-minded people together, they get to share goals and best practices and inspire one another. In the spirit of following up on training as regularly as possible, it’s best to have these learning gatherings once a year. Make it an impactful experience they can’t pass up and leave them with insights they can use to improve your store performance year after year.

See how CPG helps top brands craft the perfect engagement recipe:

Your People Are Hungry for Knowledge

The age-old saying “knowledge is power” couldn’t be more relevant. Give your people the knowledge they need, give them frequent updates, and involve them in the process by allowing regular opportunities for questions and feedback. Feed their curiosity! The more informed they are with your brand message, the more they buy-in. And when that happens, customers feel it when they walk through the door.