[This article was originally posted on Modern Restaurant Management.]
While many restaurant executives work from an office setting, most of their employees are on the ground floor, bussing tables, taking orders, or preparing food. In the workforce, these workers are considered “non-desk employees” – those who don’t sit in front of a computer to do their job, don’t have corporate emails, and often have a different set of needs, values, and work patterns than their desk-based counterparts.
As the pandemic shines a light on the importance of non-desk workers in keeping businesses, and the overall economy going, it has also given us a window into how these workers operate – who they are, how they behave, and what matters most to them. By truly understanding what makes these workers tick, employers have a real opportunity to meet their unique needs and arm them with the proper tools that maximize performance, productivity, and output.
As a restaurant leader, here are the top five things you should know about your non-desk workforce:
1. Your non-desk workers are (often) the face of your brand
“Frontline,” says it all. Many of these workers literally represent your company, your services, and, perhaps most importantly, your brand. Day in and day out, they are running the business and interacting directly with customers. In many cases, they build relationships, knowing what your customers like and don’t like, and can often be the difference between a good and bad customer experience. This has major trickle-down implications when it comes to word-of-mouth, customer response, and retention. Embracing these workers by keeping them in the know not only gives you insight into your customers but can have a major impact on that customer’s experience – hitting you right on the bottom line.
2. It’s not just your customers who are online, it’s your employees too
The world is turning mobile, and restaurants are doing everything they can to keep up with their guests and customers who are constantly online. When it comes to technology investments and upgrades, restaurants usually focus their spend on the customer experience – QR code menus, online reservations, digital receipts, rewards, and feedback.
As a leader of a non-desk workforce, it is important to remember that your customers are not the only ones doing everything online, your workers are too. The vast majority of non-desk workers rely, exclusively, on their mobile devices for everything they do. It’s how they get their news, listen to music, and even how they read and watch movies, so it would make sense that it is also how they communicate for their job, especially given the nature of their work. In order to effectively engage with these workers, it is important to meet them where they are and connect in the ways that matter most to them.
3. Your workers want to feel valued and engaged
Employee engagement is the key ingredient of any business with direct ties to productivity, satisfaction, retention, and bottom line. In the restaurant business, employee engagement – whether that’s a smiling face at the door or someone that will go the extra mile to make sure the order is correct – can be the difference between customers coming back for more or never returning again.
One study shows that 95 percent of guests would go back to a restaurant again if they had a pleasant experience and the staff catered specifically to their personal preferences. This kind of customer service can only happen if employees feel fulfilled, happy, valued, important at work. To ensure employees feel this way, it is important to keep them in the loop on all company communications, updates, and goals. Properly communicating your business’ core philosophy and mission to employees helps promote a sense of team spirit and keep them focused on a common goal.
Want to read more? Find out the last 2 points in the full Modern Restaurant Management article.