4 Ways to Build Up Your Team

Published :  July 14, 2023

W hile the National Restaurant Association projects that restaurant employment will surpass pre-pandemic numbers, this rebuilding won’t be as swift as we’d all like. In a 2023 National Restaurant Association survey, 79% of restaurants reported difficulty hiring and 62% said they are currently understaffed.1 In the process of building numbers back up, it’s what we do now that will attract and maintain employees. In addition to the restaurants considering functional and practical benefits, like healthcare, many are incorporating the following practices and perks to foster connection and make work enjoyable.

1. Recognition and appreciation

It may seem obvious, but the simplest way to make employees feel valued is to say, “thank you” for a job well done. This is especially important when someone goes above and beyond to accommodate the needs of your business. You can make the idea of recognition even more fun with perks that can be given out by leadership. Rewards can be anything from free meals, gift cards and extended breaks to education opportunities or tickets to a local experience. One restaurant chain began factoring in referral bonuses, including a combination of gift cards and store merch. Today, more than 30% of their workers are a result of employee referrals.2

2. Invite your crew to the conversation

Clinton Anderson, CEO of Fourth Intelligence Platform says, “Engaging with employees is vital. When [they] don’t feel their needs are being met or fairly considered, employee turnover rises.” Alternatively, when employees feel valued, you’ll see the appreciation come through in their work.3 Restaurants like the regional chain, gusto!, are making a conscious effort to involve employees with “Heard Sessions,” where leaders listen to employees’ perspectives on how their work experience can be improved.4 Conversations like this may shine a light on bettering outdated equipment, work process, or even the menu. In the end, this conversation benefits employee and employer alike while building loyalty among staff.

3. Build team connection

Celebrate your team by getting together monthly or even quarterly. While you might consider these events under the classification of rewards, these ideas work to strengthen the bond between staff members. When employees care about the people they work with and the company they work for, they naturally overdeliver in their daily efforts. Celebrations could range from team training opportunities that include meals or treats for staff to social gatherings. From sports leagues to celebration dinners, inviting staff to gather in a positive atmosphere outside of work builds work culture and makes employees feel like they’ve been invested in.

4. Make workdays a little easier

If you’re already short-staffed, it can put a lot of pressure on employees picking up the slack. In these situations, it’s worth considering efficiencies that ease the workload. Technology like QR code menus, that not only display the menu but also allow the customer to both order and pay, offer some relief, says Brian Cotlove, Chief Business Officer at Restaurant Tech Company BentoBox.5 Finding ways to lessen prep work also makes shifts more manageable. For carryout and delivery, bottled and canned beverages like STARRY™ Lemon Lime and LIFEWTR™ eliminate the worry of drinks spilling in the car as well as the need for staff to fill cups, top with lids, and grab straws.

Not all operations look the same, but as long as you’re working to create positive answers to the question, “why would someone want to work here?” you’re on the right track.


1Restaurant Dive; NRA forecasts 2023 job growth, not major recession, 2/23/23

2QSR Magazine; The Heart of Portillo’s How a People-First Approach Built an Icon, 11/22

3Fourth; Why restaurants are struggling to find and keep employees, 4/18/23

4QSR Magazine; QSR’s Best Brands to Work For, 11/22

5Restaurant Dive; 4 ways to face labor shortages, 7/13/22