For many people Christmas is a season of cheer, celebration and general merriment. For the hospitality industry it can also be an extremely profitable time; bringing in loads of family get-togethers and staff Christmas parties. However, if you’ve ever worked in a restaurant during the festive period you know how stressful and hectic this period is. You want to make this season as painless as possible for you and your staff, but how can you achieve this? How do you get the best out of your staff and treat them like people too?
Be honest about what employees should expect during the rush. There is no point in hiring new staff for the Christmas period and not telling them what to expect. Prospective staff should know what to expect during your more demanding periods as it allows them to mentally prepare. Clear communication is crucial to any business, especially when you’re busy. Managing expectations allows for everyone to work more effectively.
Make sure you that your staff get all of their breaks. This helps to prevent burnout and stops stress from building up. You should think about creating a break schedule. Not only does this help to ensure everyone gets their breaks but it also helps frazzled staff if they know they have a break coming up. Understand that when it’s extra busy wait staff may need to leave the floor for just a minute to regroup. Obviously taking a break when the restaurant is extra busy isn’t an ideal circumstance; but ultimately staff taking a couple of seconds to breathe away from the hustle and bustle benefits everyone. That minute that they take won’t really affect the busyness of the restaurant and will mean they come back more productive.
Don’t Overwork Your Staff
This point doesn’t just refer to breaks but also to the number of employees that you have working. Christmas is a hectic period and you should have more staff on the floor and in the kitchen to reflect this. You will probably have to hire extra employees just for the Christmas period but with how busy it gets at Christmas it’s better to be overstaffed than understaffed. Your employees shouldn’t feel like they are swarmed by customers with no one to help them out, or that they can’t have a day off because of how busy the restaurant is. This isn’t productive for anyone and makes it more likely that your employees will burn out.
Tip: Don’t forget to let seasonal staff know where spare supplies are stored e.g. till roll. Even if they don’t need them themselves it can be handy to have someone who can fetch a spare before the queues build up!
Recognise those staff members that go above and beyond. Everyone likes to feel appreciated and like to think they’ve made a difference in their day’s work. It’s a good idea to thank employees at the end of a hectic shift. It’s surprising the difference feeling like your efforts have been noticed and appreciated can make. A simple “thank you” goes a long way to making the stress of the day seem less significant. Maybe after a busy service, consider surprising your staff with a sweet treat from the kitchen.
We’re talking about the Christmas season and what’s the Christmas season without some Christmas cheer? You probably have Christmas decorations in the restaurant anyway; but you should encourage staff to indulge in the Christmas spirit. If you have a uniform maybe let staff mix it up with a Christmas jumper or even Santa hats. There are a million little ways that employees can show their love for Christmas. However, it’s important not to force participation. Some of your staff might not celebrate Christmas or it might be a hard time of year for them; so, while you should encourage participation and inclusion you should make sure it’s not forced.
Tip: Encourage diversity during the Christmas season. Have a week where all your staff are encouraged to bring in an aspect of their own culture, for example a traditional dessert that they could leave in the staff room for sharing. This allows for all religions and nationalities to be involved.
The Christmas season can be stressful for employees, but also for you, as a business owner. It costs money to hire and pay new staff, not to mention the training costs. More expenses are incurred if you give a Christmas bonus to staff. While you know the busy Christmas period should give you a cash flow boost, you may not be able to use these profits until after the Christmas season. In order to hire new staff or give bonuses, you may need an injection of cash to balance out these extra seasonal costs. A short-term finance solution, like a cash advance is a great option for this situation. This works with your business by taking the pressure off your cash flow, as repayments are made daily using a portion of your card sales.
These are some simple tips that are easy to implement and encourage positivity in the workplace. When your staff are engaged and invested in the workings of the restaurant they are likely to be both happier and more productive. According to Gallup, the U.S., researched based, global performance management consulting company, employees who are “engaged and thriving” are 59% less likely to look for a job with a different organisation in the next year. Engaging your employees and catering to their needs is paramount to retaining staff. For some more information about staff retention and turnover you should check out our article on 'Main Causes of Employee Turnover'. Your staff shouldn’t dread the Christmas season they should be confident that you’ll support them during this busy time, and that even on the tough days that you appreciate their efforts. Happier staff means happier customers; and happier customers mean a more profitable business.