A Healthy Staff is a Happy Staff!

We all know them, people who seem to have endless amounts of energy and always have a decidedly positive outlook on life. How do they do that? Why don’t they have colds and flu and other ailments as frequently as others? Hmmm . . . could it be something in the water?

The answer is: it is the water! Recently I conducted a class, which consisted mainly of young, inexperienced servers. I impressed upon them the importance of maintaining their most valuable instrument, their bodies and, more specifically, their voices. I told them that they are among those who consider themselves to be professional speakers and performers. All serious performers know that water is the best thing for their art and career. And I do use the word “career” when talking about their jobs as servers. It doesn’t matter if they are paying their way through college or just making money for the summer, I stress to them that it is a career and they are professionals. Therefore, they should treat themselves well and drink plenty of water.

Forks, spoons, knives, plates, ramekins, napkins, side plates and bowls. All of these things cost money. It’s very painful to see them in the trash and know that you are the only one who feels that pain. How to stop the careless throwing away of those non-disposable items is not an easy task at all. I have a suggestion you might alter and make your own. Anything is worth a try!

Your next staff meeting should include all the staff, including dishwashers, cooks, servers, etc. Inform them that you are concerned about the growing cost of these lost items and you have a plan that might help stop the costly loss of them.

Tell your dishwasher that you are rewarding him/her for every utensil and dish that he/she recovers from the trash. He/she will receive a quarter for each and every item recovered. You should have a tally sheet for him/her to fill out at the end of every day. At the end of a shift, go through and make sure you have the right figures, etc. and pay him/her cash on the spot. Where does the money come from?

Documentation is Everything

Documentation is not just a restaurant industry issue, it is an issue in every business that has many employees. The law is definite on the issue when it regards the termination of an employee. It is your job to make sure that no detail has been overlooked.

Documentation does not have to be a bad thing, as some of us have come to view it. If you are performing job reviews when you are supposed to, and you are informing your staff of the wonderful things they do and some of the areas they could use improvement, you are documenting. Having a form that each staff member signs at the end of his/her review will show that you have done your job and they have agreed that you have done so.

Not only does this show that you are doing your job and documenting, it also shows your employees that you care enough to sit down with them and actually give them a job review. More than once I have heard friends and co-workers lament the fact that they do not get job reviews when stated at hiring. Their complaint is that they feel insignificant and not valued by their management and company. One person in particular wants her job review so she knows how she is doing and how she can improve. Ultimately, she wants to be able to ask for a raise and justify it. But she also wants to move up in her company and has come to feel that her managers do not want her to move up. It no longer is an issue of money, it is her happiness that is affected. There is no challenge in her current position and there is no job review to state that formally. She has tried talking to her immediate boss, but continues to be brushed off.

Proper Training and Documentation:
Don’t Overlook Them!

Don’t you just hate to hear these words: “I didn’t know that was my job,” or, “I’ve only been late three times! I don’t understand why you’re angry!” Unfortunately, you’ve probably heard much worse! Guess who is at fault most of the time? No matter what you think you may have told an employee upon hiring or what you think is common sense, if it isn’t in writing, chances are you will be held ultimately responsible. It may not be fair, but in these days of the responsibility-shrugging attitude, you have to think of all possible scenarios.

We all know we have to document tardiness, no call/no show and those types of occurrences, but do we all know how to protect ourselves from the fateful, “I didn’t know…” You can fill in the blanks from there. Upon hiring, you or someone you trust, must conduct orientation and training. There should be an Employee Handbook with all the regulations and guidelines employees should know. For example, all employees should know what consequences they face when they are late or if they just don’t show up for work one day. It should be made clear that no one is exempt from these rules, even those employees who don’t speak English. Go over the manual page by page with everyone. Take time to make sure your staff understands that you are serious about rule enforcement.