Working in a restaurant is stressfull. Food servers know there’s more moving than standing around in their jobs, but they may question their standing in a culture that doesn’t show them great respect. Lack of respect has been widely cited as a cause of workplace stress for restaurant workers.
In an article on restaurant work and mental health, Boston Globe correspondent Kara Baskin interviewed clinical psychologist Todd Farchione, who said, “The restaurant industry is…a difficult environment for many reasons. It’s not the same level of stress you see with surgeons, perhaps, but it’s very unpredictable. I think whenever you see something that is unpredictable, where someone can’t control the environment very well, it’s fertile ground for anxiety.”
Unpredictability and anxiety can cause high employee turnover, which means losing the experience and knowledge of those workers. There may not be a way to make restaurant work more predictable, but there are ways to lessen the stress on workers and build employee loyalty at the same time. Here’s how:
1. Recongnize Your Employees
Recognition doesn’t require an awards ceremony. It can be as simple as, “Hello,” or “Thanks,” or “Great job,” or letting employees know you care about their lives outside of work. You can also recognize the need for some flexibility during stressful events like the end of a semester, or a sick family member. Taking the extra time to connect with and recognize your workers goes a long way in helping build employee loyalty, which itself can be a critical factor in helping you combat stress.
2. Meet as a Team and Share Successes and Concerns
Remember how you learned math? It was through story problems like, “If you go through X bags of flour in a night, how many do you have to order to cover Y amount of days?” Stories not only teach, but they also help people build community and morale. Regular staff meetings can be an excellent way for employees to share their successes and receive recognition for their efforts. They can also be a great time for sharing and generating ideas.
3. Don’t Glamorize Stress—Urge People to Get Help
It may be fun to watch iron TV chefs chop each other apart to become Top Chef, but people don’t go to work to see how much abuse they can stand. Still, many of the people Baskin interviewed talked about the stigma against seeking help from mental health professionals. That may be changing. Baskin mentions a professional “who runs weekly yoga sessions” for one restaurant’s staffers. Another restaurant group started an employee assistance program when a staff member experienced a family tragedy.
4. Remove Language Barriers
Baskin talked to one consultant who said, “You’re dealing with a lot of people who may have mental health issues who do not speak English.” Not speaking the language of the surrounding culture can add to the stress and isolation workers may feel, particularly those at the back of the house. There are uncomplicated ways to remove language barriers. Daily Dose Learning Systems, for example, has programs for food service workers among its offerings, and Innovative language apps can help tear down barriers in the workplace.
5. Provide Opportunities
Think about the ideas that come out of your staff meetings. Who could implement them or train other staff? Think about your employees’ strengths. Is there a project that would suit their strengths well? Meaningful projects can increase engagement, which increases employee loyalty.
Managers are also workers and feel the same stresses as other workers—magnified. Buzztime Business suggests this solution for stressed restaurant managers: Delegate, delegate, delegate. Buzztime’s 10 Tips for Delegating fall into three general categories:
- Think about your duties and what needs to be done by you. Delegate the rest.
- Hire employees you can delegate to and help them develop their strengths.
- Train your employees clearly and give them the authority to do their job, such as changing an order with a supplier if problems come up, or comping a meal if needed.
You can’t take away the unpredictability of working in a restaurant, but you can reduce the stress that unpredictability causes, minimize employee turnover, build employee loyalty, and improve customer service through proper stress management in the workplace. You also want to make sure you have a reliable and easy to use restaurant POS system like Harbortouch Restaurant POS to make sure your employees have a positive working experience when dealing with customers. Having a POS that is continuously failing or is challenging to operate, it can cause needless stress in your restaurant.
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