How to Show Employee Appreciation: 7 Ways to Thank Your Team

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Geri Mileva
September 27, 2023
Two restaurant employees are smiling because they feel valued and appreciated.

In the restaurant business, amidst the hustle and bustle, it's vital to remember a crucial element for your restaurant's success: employee appreciation.

Acknowledging your team's effort and commitment isn't merely a kind act; it's a smart strategy that can yield greater efficiency, lift spirits, and bolster staff loyalty. Research backs this up, showing that regularly rewarding employees with gestures like cash, points, or gratitude can increase their engagement eightfold compared to those who receive only annual bonuses. Furthermore, recognizing their efforts can improve your team's sense of purpose, as 74% of those receiving team praise also strongly feel their work is valuable and meaningful.

In this article, we delve into the significance of employee appreciation in the restaurant industry for fostering a positive work environment and reducing turnover. We'll share practical tips and best practices to ensure your restaurant staff knows they are valued.

When Is Employee Appreciation Day?

Before we explore ways to show appreciation, let's first note some significant days that offer the perfect opportunity to express gratitude to your restaurant staff.

  • National Employee Appreciation Day: This nationwide celebration takes place on the first Friday of March, making it an excellent occasion to acknowledge and reward your restaurant team.
  • Hospitality Workers Appreciation Day: Observed on February 23rd, this day honors hardworking individuals in the hospitality industry, including your restaurant staff.
  • Food Service Employee Day: On September 25th, this day shines a spotlight on the dedicated workers in the food service industry.
  • National Waitstaff Day: Celebrated on May 21st, this day is ideal for recognizing your restaurant's waitstaff for their dedication and hard work.

Take note of these dates, add them to your employee scheduling software, and celebrate each — even if it’s just with simple gestures.

7 Ways to Demonstrate Employee Appreciation

You can express appreciation for your staff in numerous ways, whether you have a small team or a large workforce spanning multiple locations. What truly matters is consistency and authenticity. Here are 7 ways to show appreciation for your restaurant team.

Praise and Recognition

Surprisingly, praise, one of the most effective tools for enhancing performance, is often underused. A report shows that those who don’t receive praise are twice as likely to contemplate quitting within the following year

To prevent this in your restaurant, be generous with your praise. Establish an "Employee of the Month" program or regularly acknowledge exceptional employees. You can also introduce prizes and awards for positive customer feedback, fostering a culture of not just employee appreciation, but also excellence.

Employees are showing appreciation for a coworker by clapping and celebrating her.

Work-Life Balance

The restaurant industry frequently requires extended work hours and irregular schedules. Creating an environment where personal lives are as valued as work commitments is crucial. You can demonstrate respect for your employees' personal lives and a commitment to their well-being through generous vacation allowances, guilt-free sick leave policies, and flexible scheduling options. Additionally, consider arranging team bonding events to foster stronger relationships among your staff, further promoting a healthy work-life balance. 

Monetary Rewards

You can show your gratitude to your employees in various ways, such as through bonuses, salary bumps, gift cards, complimentary meals, and employee appreciation gifts. These financial acknowledgments have the potential to inspire better performance among your workforce. For instance, grant quarterly bonuses for outstanding achievements, increase salaries based on experience and performance, or give gift cards and complimentary meals as tokens of appreciation. Another significant method is to offer a team reward, allowing your team to bond by working towards a collective goal. These concrete incentives can raise morale and enhance the well-being of your staff.

An employee is opening an employee appreciation gift.

Comprehensive Compensation Package

A competitive compensation package stands as a crucial way to show employee appreciation. Don't settle for just offering minimum wage; offer a comprehensive benefits package. This can include healthcare, a retirement savings plans with employer matching, and tuition reimbursement. By providing a robust benefits package, you can provide financial stability and foster career growth, demonstrating your commitment to your staff's future. 

This investment attracts and retains top talent and cultivates long-term dedication. For instance, tuition reimbursement not only aids employee education but also enhances skills, positively influencing your restaurant's performance and innovation.

Create Meaningful Connections with Your Team

Investing time to connect with your employees personally demonstrates that you value them as individuals. You can achieve this by celebrating birthdays and work anniversaries, orchestrating team-building activities, and conversing regularly with your team members. Introducing staff appreciation days featuring complimentary meals is a delightful way to commemorate and strengthen bonds. Show sincere concern for their personal lives by being accommodating during family emergencies, illnesses, and bereavement. 

By fostering personal connections with your employees, you build trust and loyalty within your team. When employees feel seen and valued as individuals, they are more likely to be motivated, satisfied with their work, and dedicated to the success of your restaurant.

Employees are at an employee appreciation team building event in the park.

Invest in Employee Training and Development

Employee appreciation also means providing training programs, workshops, and skill enhancement opportunities to foster their growth. Explore avenues such as attending industry conferences or setting up in-house training initiatives. These investments in your employees' professional development convey your dedication to their advancement and your desire to assist them in realizing their full potential. 

Dedication to your employees' development boosts job satisfaction and positively impacts your restaurant's performance. As your staff refine their skills and keep up with industry trends, they become better at their roles, resulting in enhanced customer service, greater efficiency, and a competitive edge in the restaurant industry.

Foster Empowerment and Feedback

Empower your employees by actively seeking their input and feedback, engaging them in decision-making, and considering their suggestions for enhancing restaurant operations. This culture of open communication can lead to innovative solutions that benefit both staff and customers. Highlight the significance of turning employee suggestions into new offerings, policies, or practices.

Imagine the satisfaction of proposing a new menu item now featured in every restaurant across the chain or suggesting a food preparation technique that increases efficiency. For many employees, the opportunity to leave a lasting mark on the business can bring pride and job satisfaction.

Final Thoughts on Showing Employee Appreciation

Appreciating your employees goes beyond boosting morale. Employee appreciation fosters a positive workplace, leading to happier employees and better customer service, benefiting your restaurant's bottom line. Celebrate and recognize your staff consistently, as even small gestures have a significant impact. 

Additionally, nurturing this culture of showing employee appreciation can increase retention rates, reduce turnover, and establish team cohesion, saving your restaurant time and money. 

Continue investing in your team by leveraging a people operating system like Push. From payroll and scheduling automation to self-serve vacation requests and shift swaps, Push is the HR solution that employees and managers crave. Book a demo now to get started.

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September 2023


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