It’s natural that if your staff is happy, your guests will be happy too. When the holidays roll around, it’s a good time to think about taking hospitality to the next level – not just for guests, but also for your employees. We spoke with several restaurateurs to learn how they nurture their team and learned that staff appreciation generally comes down to four things: parties or social events, communal meals, gifts, and time off.
The holidays are a season of parties. Giving staff an opportunity to celebrate with their colleagues is one of the most common ways to show appreciation during the holidays. While some staff may live near family, others may not. Either way, it’s great to give your team the opportunity to celebrate with their “restaurant family.”
Julia Sullivan, chef owner Henrietta Red in Nashville, plans a holiday party, often around an activity. “We have a party and Secret Santa—karaoke, bowling, or skating,” she says. Keeping the party fun and safe should always be a priority. Sullivan adds, “If we’re going to take the whole staff out, we try and pay for their rides home so no one is driving. We’d hate for a celebration to turn into a bad situation. We try not to have a drinking culture at work.” She encourages people to share rides, and she doesn’t pay for drinks.
An activity-based party takes the emphasis off of overindulging. Says Sullivan, “One of the benefits of making the party around an activity is that everyone can participate without it getting out of hand.”
- Choose an activity everyone can participate in.
- Keep the focus off of drinking.
- Make it easy for everyone to get home safely.
Holidays present an opportunity to show your appreciation and make staff meals even more special. At Henrietta Red, the pastry chef bakes 12 days of Christmas cookies. “She does something different every day – nostalgic stuff – and she takes recommendations from everyone,” says Sullivan.
Kelly Nordstrom, Director of Training and Operating Partner at Cameron Mitchell Restaurants notes, “We always make sure that on busy shifts we provide employee meals for the teams. The chef teams plan a holiday dinner for the staff that is served on New Year’s Eve before our dinner shift. This is a great way to break bread together and celebrate our year’s success.”
- Make sure staff is well fed during busy times, when they may be working longer shifts.
- Make staff meals extra special with personal dishes or a theme.
- Make meals feel like a celebration.
- Incorporate suggestions from staff.