How to Create a Healthy Company Culture in Your Restaurant
By: Kim Lorang
In any company, creating and maintaining a healthy culture is the key to employee retention and happiness. One might argue that this is even more important in restaurants, where team members often work long shifts and truly depend on one another to provide exceptional service to customers.
A positive, healthy culture where employees feel respected, valued, and encouraged to share their feedback without fear of retaliation is truly the backbone of a happy workforce!
Check out a few eye-opening stats on how company culture truly shapes an organization, from a study done by BuiltIn:
Why is establishing a healthy company culture such a crucial part of business? Check out a few benefits:
Hiring new talent: A healthy company culture gives your restaurant a competitive advantage when it comes to attracting new talent. Happy employees can become your strongest recruitment resource; when they tell others how much they love working in your restaurant, others will naturally apply for positions!
Retention and Loyalty: A healthy company culture breeds happy employees! When people enjoy going to work each day, they are far more likely to stay with their employer. Companies that invest in making their employees feel valued will notice their team is more productive, more motivated, and more willing to step up to help with projects that are not part of their regular duties.
Less Stress: Creating a healthy company culture is the top way to reduce workplace stress. When employees feel free to voice their concerns or feelings without fear and feel their feedback is addressed quickly and positively, they are less likely to feel frustrated and anxious.
Now that you understand how important it is to foster a healthy, positive culture in your restaurant, let’s talk about the steps you can take to ensure your workforce is full of happy, dedicated employees that are empowered to do their jobs well and communicate effectively with their team members!
Determine the Current Culture
Before you can figure out what you want your culture to look like, you must take an objective, honest look at what the culture looks like now. Depending on the level of trust your employees have in management, this could be as simple as sending out a survey to get feedback from employees to determine what they think the organization is doing well and what needs work. Unfortunately, if trust is broken, these answers may not be honest, as employees may feel they will be retaliated against if they share their real thoughts. It will be essential to review internal issues that have come up and read non-verbal cues of employees during daily operations in those cases. If you feel there may be trust issues, those issues need to be addressed first and foremost, as efforts to boost the company culture may be fruitless without laying that solid foundation.
Define the Desired Culture
Once you have an honest understanding of your culture and how your employees view it, you can begin creating the blueprint that will guide your company culture. Think about what words you’d like your employees to use when talking about your company. How would they describe your leadership team? What do you want communication to look like within your organization? How can you empower your team to do their best work and grow with your organization?
Set Clear Expectations
Once your leadership team has a clear idea of what your culture should look like, it’s time to share your plan with your team! Remember, if there is a lack of trust, your employees might be skeptical of the outcome. It is essential that the leadership team “walks the walk” every single day, demonstrating the values and actions in each interaction with the team. Make expectations clear, and encourage your employees to share ideas that might help further team satisfaction. Encourage positivity and express gratitude often. When employees see management making these efforts, they are much more likely to hop on board!
Foster Positive Connections
The more connected your team feels, the better your culture will be! Positive workplace relationships are so important; a company with a great culture can crumble if there are strained relationships between coworkers. When leadership shows excellent listening skills when an employee brings up an issue they’re having with another employee and goes out of their way to ensure all issues are addressed positively, employees will be less likely to feel resentment towards one another. Encouraging healthy communication and planning team-building events that allow your team to enjoy one another’s company in a relaxed setting are great ways to promote these connections!
Measure Progress and Recognize Changes
When you focus on improving your company culture and lead by example, you will notice a happier, more productive workforce over time. The more frequently you measure your culture’s growth, the better! Consider discussing your culture quarterly, and make it an activity that is woven into your everyday operations. Talk with employees to find out if their views on the company are changing. Take note of the number of issues you’re addressing with employees. Pay close attention to the way your team is communicating. Think about how interactions have changed since you began working to change the culture. Are more people coming to you with ideas or concerns? Are fewer employees reporting feeling overworked or undervalued? Have you had to mediate less issues between team members? Has employee retention increased? What feedback have you gotten during exit interviews? Be sure you recognize employees when they act in ways that align with the culture you’re working to build. Give praise openly and show your team you value and appreciate them often. So much of your measurables will come from your employees, so take your cues from them!
When you put as much effort into creating a standout company culture as you do creating wonderful experiences for your guests, your operations will run more smoothly. The investment you make in your culture, and ultimately your people, will pay off in spades when you have a restaurant full of happy employees that love coming to work each day. That focus on culture will quickly spill over into the customer experience when your team members work together to ensure your guests receive top-notch service while enjoying your standout food and drinks!