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Bustin’ Out of a Slump

Improving Restaurant Staff Morale

Restaurant leadership

The service industry can be a very difficult, yet still enriching, industry for several reasons; but this article is going to focus a bit on employee morale. The demands for prompt and accurate food service have never been higher and any mistake has a chance of being amplified on social media and Yelp. In a business that was founded upon human interaction, the perils of Covid-19 and these keyboard yelp monsters have made being a positive leader or employee within the hospitality industry an even greater hardship. The majority of restaurant leaders don’t take the time to assess their staff’s morale and consistently work on it to keep it on the positive side of life.

As a leader, it is your responsibility for how your staff performs and how they feel about their work environment and the community there within. Keeping a tab on the morale of your staff is an integral part of leadership. Assuming everything is going well is when everything can start to fall apart. Humans grumbling about their work environment should hold the title for world’s oldest profession. Things are never perfect, but employees want to know that things are improving.  Working to make things better is a great way to keep morale on the up and up. Here are a few ways to help improve the morale and work environment for your staff.

Ways to Improve Morale
Feed your staff

Family Meal, AKA “Comida”, is a great way to improve community. Breaking bread with people is an instinctively natural human gathering time and helps people feel at home. Hungry people tend to be ornery. Feed your staff to help avoid this temperament. Mama always said that the way to a man’s (or however they identify) heart is through his stomach… Works for your staff too!

Get in the Trenches

Humans love leadership by example. It is the first way we learn; it is how I figured out I can walk on two feet! Do the work with your staff. During these times especially, your staff would love to see leadership going through the same hardships that they are. When was the last time you took out the garbage for your busser or offered to close down your line-cook’s section? Be the leader you always wish you had.


Everybody loves games. It is why our professional athletes are compensated so well. Do as they do and find ways to safely make competitions for your staff. It doesn’t necessarily have to be work related. A staff Fantasy Football League with weekly prizes or whoever volunteers most this month wins a prize. Competition is a great way to increase employee engagement!


Find ways to celebrate positive moments at your restaurant. Your staff should be celebrating success more frequently than your guests are celebrating birthdays. This was a previous blog I wrote to expand even further on this topic. Follow the example of K.O.O.L. and the Gang and “Celebrate good times. Come on! Let’s Celebrate!”

Name Things

Spend time creating creative names for food and cocktail specials. Every dish doesn’t have to have an interesting name (they can at some restaurants) but these can be fun exercises for your staff. Maybe gamify naming something and celebrate the winner. Boom! — Triple word score!!  Not only is this a great way to engage your staff but they are fun conversation starters for guests


Use every day as a testing ground to improve your restaurant.  Have fun finding new ways to entertain positive work habits with your staff. Stick with what is successful and abandon what doesn’t work. Listen to your staff’s ideas! They will know what motivates them the most; it is your job to ask.

There will be ups and downs throughout your restaurant’s life cycle. As a restaurant leader, taking the time to read blogs like this is a great way to lead through the downs. Everyone loves the high times. It is when morale is low that leadership needs to shine brightest. You are not in this alone and your staff prefers the highs just as much as you do. Keep finding new ways to brighten your staff’s day. It could be as easy as asking how their kids are doing or if they saw a recent movie. Let your staff know that you are here for them and have their best interests at heart. Lead by example and keep your staff’s morale a key focus point of your workday.


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