10 tips for increasing hospitality staff’s productivity

As anyone who has opened a cafe, restaurant or bar will know, your staff are the face and the measuring stick by which customers judge your establishment. The ability to motivate and encourage hospitality workers to perform at an optimal level requires them to have an investment and commitment in their employer, team, and job.

Creating this investment will produce far reaching benefits for a small business’ growth and financial success.

Employees can spend over 20 percent of their lives at work and while money is generally the chief motivator, it does only go so far. The formula for building employees who are productive and valuable team members, willing to go that extra mile, can be the key to business longevity.

Fortunately, there are other motivating factors aside from money which can be implemented to gain the most out of your workforce. 

Here are 10 tips for increasing hospitality staff's productivity:

Communicate with your staff

As with any fruitful relationship, the importance of knowing and understanding each other is pivotal. If a manager is no more to an employee than a faceless entity passing through the kitchen occasionally, how can they inspire commitment and fidelity?

Communication means a two-way exchange of ideas, thoughts and feedback. Actively seeking and responding to employees input and suggestions will foster a constructive line of communication. As frontline workers, wait and serving staff can be invaluable at identifying methods to streamline processes and optimise workflow.

Attitude comes from the top, so owners can set the tone in their café or restaurant by ensuring verbal and non-verbal communication is always positive and uplifting. Greet staff with a smile and show genuine interest in them as individuals. 

Offer Feedback

Constructive feedback is sometimes unavoidable. The hallmark of a good manager is the ability to deliver positive change messages without negative connotations or causing an employee to become defensive. Simply by tweaking phrasing from an order to a joint decision, can be used to good effect.

An example of this, may be rewording feedback from:

“You should have done it this way.”


“Do you think it might be easier if we approached it this way?”

By using the term ‘we’ you remove blame, eliciting a more positive response. 

Work on employee engagement

Hospitality employee engagement is a fundamental concept in developing enthusiastic and proactive staff. It can translate into fewer sick days, improved staff relations, and some have reported up to 70% less safety incidents.

This statistic suggests that employee engagement creates workers with increased attention to detail and quality care.

Building an engaged team of workers can be achieved through a variety of methods, including:

  • Providing them a clear understanding of the company’s brand and mission
  • Being included, respected and valued as an integral team member
  • Feeling part of the journey
  • Working toward defined goals together
  • Recognising and celebrating effort and achievement 

Foster a learning environment

Encourage your staff to expand their skill set and embrace challenge to make work rewarding.

This may simply mean giving them the opportunity to step outside their comfort zone by greeting customers or dealing with enquiries. It can also involve more challenging concepts like learning new technologies, end of day closing procedures, understanding payment systems or back-end administrative tasks. 

Reward deserving employees

One of the key drivers of employee productivity is the implementation of an unbiased recognition and reward system. This means every team member from the busboy to the Head Chef compete on a level playing field.

Whilst employees appreciate material rewards, recognition of their achievements through praise and encouragement can be equally powerful and carry longer lasting results.

Rewards, recognition and incentives come in many forms including:

  • Public recognition — ‘Employee of the week’
  • Sincere commendation and thanks
  • Time off
  • Incentive bonuses

Many companies have implemented reward point systems without much success. These do not generally recognise effort or growth in an individual and can feel contrived and impersonal. These structured programs cannot be expected to generate the same level of engagement as genuine praise, heartfelt appreciation and public recognition.

Guide employees about their roles

Hospitality owners and managers can improve staff morale simply by clearly establishing expectations and outlining work roles.

As an example of this, new back-of-house and wait staff can be provided with an induction session where their roles are clearly outlined.

Providing all new staff with a detailed job description has been proven to increase productivity. Understanding your expectations and their role from the outset of their employment can prevent staff conflicts surrounding task responsibilities. 

Create targets

Set achievable goals and identify what winning looks like.

Working for the greater good may seem a little out of place in a restaurant or food establishment environment but it can be translated to everyone striving toward:

  • Optimal customer experience
  • Return business
  • Improved service and systems
  • Teamwork
  • Reward for effort 

Train your staff for new skills

One of the leading motivators of hospitality staff is to learning new skills, increasing responsibility and growth within their careers. Don’t be afraid to encourage personal and professional growth fearing it may lead to staff loss. Employees who are experiencing development and fulfilment within their workplace will be reluctant to leave.

Promote from within where possible to set achievable goals for employees. 

Set a good example

Inspire by example. A leader can set the standard for dedication and commitment without words. Be hands on and prepared to assist with the most menial tasks.

Show employees that you have faith in their abilities and trust that they will succeed. Move away from micromanagement which can be both frustrating and disheartening. 

Connect and care about your employees

Actively listen to your employees — they all have something to contribute. Laughter is a great motivator. Make the workplace a fun environment to be in. Raise morale through good natured banter and a sense of camaraderie.

Supervisors of hospitality staff are endowed with a huge responsibility. The entire working of an establishment rests on your ability to manage, inspire and motivate the most important cogs to perform continuously and at maximum efficiency.

The rewards for investing time and energy into creating fulfilled and productive team members will translate to increased retention, productivity and revenue. 

About the author:

Danielle Ryans is a freelance writer based in Sydney, Australia. She loves writing about new topics that allow her to expand into her areas of interested — business, travel, health, food and lifestyle. Follow her on Twitter @DaniDoesEarth



Follow Us
Follow us on