how to build a strong restaurant culture
by Laura-Andreea Voicu

Whether you own a simple dining restaurant, a cultural restaurant like an Italian restaurant, or a Michelin-starred restaurant, the restaurant industry is very competitive. Restaurants have a high turnover rate, which is risky for any business. Hiring and training, after all, are expensive.

The good news is that a strong restaurant culture can help address employee turnover. Restaurant culture is an amalgamation of your restaurant’s values, vision, mission, mannerisms, language, branding, and presentation. To ensure an excellent restaurant culture, you should think about all these facets holistically and ensure they all work well.

Employees enjoy working in environments with great cultures. A restaurant with an impeccable culture also allows for effective communication among the staff, management, and customers.

So, how do you build a solid, engaging restaurant culture? Here are the key things to start with.

1. Review Your Current Restaurant Culture

Progress is made by understanding your past and current situation. For instance, if the goal is to build a strong restaurant culture, you must review what culture you currently have.

It’s important to understand that today’s culture has been cultivated. Therefore, to improve it, you need a higher commitment.

How do you go about reviewing your current restaurant culture? At a restaurant, the most common observation is how your employees conduct themselves while interacting with customers. Ask yourself:

  • Are they polite?
  • Are they passionate?
  • Do they move around excited to serve, or are they dragging themselves across the floor?
  • How do they handle feedback and special requests from customers?

Although these issues are observable on the restaurant floor, they manifest deeper underlying issues. Therefore, after keenly observing them, you must dig deeper and establish what is underneath.

For example, do the employees understand the restaurant’s mission and vision? Does the organizational strategy hinder or foster the culture you would want? Do the employees understand the norms, values, and system, and do they have empowering beliefs and habits?

You can assess deeper issues and implement the resolutions by creating an open communication environment (to be discussed later). That way, your employees will give you honest feedback, whether you give surveys or conduct one-on-ones.

An open environment also allows the employees to offer information and areas of improvement even before you ask.

2. Offer Benefits and Perks

Employees want to work in an environment where they feel appreciated. One way to show your restaurant employees that you acknowledge and appreciate their work is by offering them worthy benefits and perks. With good benefits, your employees will likely stay longer with your restaurant, reducing turnover and training costs.

Happy employees help you solve most of your restaurant problems. It might cost you some money to implement the benefits and perks program that you will offer. However, this is justifiable by the return on investment (ROI) on retaining good employees for longer.

In addition, happy restaurant employees are enthusiastic about their work. As a result, they are more innovative, serve customers better, and help you get good reviews. Such a culture is what your restaurant needs.

For instance, Starbucks has one of the most employee-centric benefits. The Starbucks benefits and perks include health coverage, stocks and savings, paid time off, parental leave, education, commuter benefits, and partner assistance. All these benefits effectively boost the morale of the coffee chain’s full-time and part-time workers.

A strong culture in your restaurant is one of mutual partnership. You take care of your employees, and they take care of your business. This is one of the primary reasons to prioritize employee appreciation.

When you do so, you attract better talent. The talents also get to stay with your restaurant longer. That enables you to deliver excellent customer service, improving your business consistently.

3. Have a Clear Organizational Strategy

An organizational strategy outlines how the restaurant plans to use its resources. Planning out how to employ resources, including your labor, shows what you value the most and what you value the least.

An organizational strategy should factor in employees’ input. This strategy improves a restaurant’s culture and increases employee retention.

A restaurant is a service business. For a service business to be successful, you cannot run it on a whim. Therefore, as you establish an organizational strategy, you must know some facts about LLC resolutions.

An LLC resolution stipulates your business’ guidelines and regulations, ensuring that your business runs smoothly without veering too far from the fundamental principles.

For instance, to ensure that your culture is solid, you need to clearly document the mannerisms expected within the business, the protocols for addressing arising issues, and ways to take care of all the stakeholders.

The service that your employees deliver is precious to your business. Hence, in your strategy, you should prioritize employee training and management. You should also emphasize their compensation strategy, among other business facets.

When you train your employees, appreciate and manage them properly. An employee should not only be trained during onboarding; there should be continuous training to keep up with the trends.

They should also be trained continuously to ensure employees remain aligned with the restaurant values and culture you’re trying to cultivate.

Management, on the other hand, creates a conducive environment for work. This leads to a restaurant culture that helps you grow the business.

Read more: 16 Restaurant Management Tips for Happy Employees & a Successful Business

4. Organize Team Activities

Team activities strengthen the restaurant culture and make the employees more acquainted with each other and the management.

Team activities improve the restaurant’s culture because employees get to know each other more. They also have shared fun memories that serve as a bonding platform.

Furthermore, they feel appreciated. With a strong restaurant culture that engages employees in this way, your retention is bound to be very high.

When thinking of team activities to undertake, don’t just stay with the trivial activities, such as trust fall. Instead, go for more engaging activities that align with your company’s mission and vision.

These activities may include scavenger hunts, trivia night, summer camps, structured games, charitable events, sports, staff mixers, and other events like road trips. Employees must be fully immersed and have fun together when they engage in the activity.

5. Build a Culture of Open Communication

A culture of open communication makes your employees feel valued. You should include this culture in your training manual.

The underlying principle in this culture is that everyone’s input is valued. When employees feel like they are valued and that their input means something, they enjoy being a part of your organization.

At a restaurant, a culture of open communication allows for accurate, timely communication of employee and customer feedback.

For instance, if there is an issue with work equipment, logistics, or shifts, the complaint will be communicated without the fear of negative repercussions. The complaint is positively received and addressed promptly.

To minimize complaints, ensure your employees have all the necessary information, tools, and technologies required to do a great job.

Free employees from the time-consuming task of accepting orders over the phone Install a free online ordering system where they can take orders with the tap of a button

The most common open communication culture is an open-door policy. This is a vital culture as it makes all employees accessible, including the top leadership.

Through this policy, employees can raise problems and mistakes as soon as possible without fearing repercussions. They are also motivated to raise solutions whenever they encounter something that needs to be addressed.

Here are some ways you can build a culture of open communication.

  • Establish clear, round-the-clock communication channels
  • Conduct weekly one-on-one meetings
  • Hold monthly or quarterly staff meetings
  • Have annual reviews together as a team
  • Have postmortem reviews, for instance, after a shift

Furthermore, use inclusive language with open communication and discourage anonymous feedback. Anonymous feedback indicates the fear of consequences. Therefore, cultivating an open communication culture enhances honest communication without fear.

Conclusion

Improving your restaurant culture enhances employee retention. Employee retention is among the biggest challenges in the restaurant business. Therefore, having a hospitable culture is necessary.

You can create the desired culture by offering your employees benefits and perks, having a clear organizational strategy, organizing team activities, and ensuring a culture of open communication.

Now that you understand how to build a strong restaurant culture to increase employee retention, it is time to create a family in your business with employees that stay longer.

Author Bio:

Jon Morgan

Jon is the founder of two successful e-commerce and SaaS businesses. He’s passionate about sharing what he has learned from working with business owners through Venture Smarter.

photo of GloriaFood blog writer Laura-Andreea Voicu
Laura-Andreea Voicu

Laura-Andreea Voicu is an experienced content writer with a knack for marketing and SEO. She delivers business-optimized content to help restaurants boost sales and grow their brand.

She wrote for Search Engine Journal, Clutch, Sender, Venngage, Quickbooks, and many more.