employees engagement

Invest in employee engagement to invest in your success

By Matt Rolfe

In 2016, hundreds of great bars and restaurants will close their doors in Canada. Many of them had solid locations and great concepts. Most had sound business plans. What makes or breaks these businesses? More often than not, it’s because the staff that was supposed to create a great experience for the guest did not receive the kind of ongoing training that would guide them forward with inspiration and purpose.

To succeed in today’s industry, no matter what processes, systems or technologies we put in place, we must have an inspired and engaged workforce. In order to build and retain this type of team, we need to invest in their continuous growth and development.

Some will ask, “Why invest in staff if they are going to leave?”

In an industry where the annual staff turnover rate can quadruple every year, that is an appropriate question. One thing is certain: Uninspired staff can do a lot of damage to your business. The companies that are finding ways to invest in their employees are the businesses that will have longevity and thrive, instead of just staying afloat.

Tips to inspire and engage your employees

Recognition is free — it only takes a bit of time – Do you have a formal program in place to recognize your staff? Have every one of your staff received positive, or even corrective feedback, in the last seven days? If your answer is no, then we have a great opportunity.

Recognition does not happen by accident. It needs a formal, measured program in order to work.  My recommendation is to have your managers, or even yourself as an owner, set a recognition goal each week. Then, track your progress in view of your goal. Keep track of who you recognized, what you recognize them for and how they reacted. A quick three-to-five minute, one-on-one coaching session is a great way to connect with your staff. I recommend you use your pre-shift meetings to take a minute and recognize an employee in front of their peers. Taking the time to recognize your staff each day and each week is incredibly powerful. It will be some of the most valuable time you with them spend each week.

Staff training events vs. a learning calendar – Focusing on service or “people” is something most businesses do every year. One of my goals is to change our industry’s perspective; our people and our service is not an event, it is what we do. We no longer need staff meetings on the schedule, but we need a learning calendar that holds us accountable in our continued focus on service and people.

If you would like some tips on building a learning calendar, please email and I would be happy to send you some examples (mrolfe@barmetrix.com).

Do you have a budget? If not, set one today – Most people reading this are operating a business that does well over six figures in annual revenue. Based on those revenues, I am sure that your annual budget has forecasted expenses. Often operators forget to set aside money for continuous staff training, outside of staff parties.

Every operation should have a budget put aside to invest in their staff. Think outside the box for group activities and training beyond an annual holiday party. In addition, you could do a company book club, bring in a bank to teach your staff how to purchase their first home or invest properly, pay knowledge programs for applicable beer, food or wine training for those that are showing real passion. My recommendation is to keep things simple and make sure to block the time, communicate your plan to your staff, and be sure to follow through. It is proven that once your staff’s base financial needs are met, the most important factor in retention is finding ways to teach them and help them grow. No matter how big or how small, build a plan and take action.

Whatever your plan, make time and find ways to invest in your staff. Even if your budget is small, taking the time to do this can make all the difference for your company culture and employee retention. Our industry has been built off a foundation of addressing our staff only when something has gone wrong.  This needs to change by finding ways recognize your staff daily or weekly. Investing in high value education, not just training sessions, and setting aside a budget can make all the difference.

About the author:

Matt Rolfe is the CEO of Barmetrix Global, a hospitality coaching and consulting firm that helps clients multiply profits, maximize staff engagement and deliver remarkable guest services by design. Contact Matt at mrolfe@barmetrix.com to book speaking engagements or to discuss Barmetrix Services. For more information, call 416-367-2263.

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