happy employees at a restaurant

How to hold on to your good performers?

By Nadine Hashem

How many times have you regretted the loss of a good and hard-working employee?


Then you start thinking of the possible ways that would’ve helped you to avoid this loss.


Can you build and scale an organization without your precious employees?


I don’t think so.


Employees are your long-lasting asset. You spend hefty amounts of money to look for people to recruit, then to train to finally make them a part of the organization regardless of the industry and in particular hospitality because it’s customer service driven.


That’s why you need to think deeply about the possible ways to hold on to those good employees, the ones that are ready to do anything for the sake of your business’ success.


So, let’s start from the beginning and start with the proper onboarding process.


What’s Onboarding and how do you onboard an employee?


Remember your first day at school?


When your parents drive you to the school leaving you with one of the teachers for a full day?


the things that you go through during this first day until you enter the class is called onboarding.


And so onboarding in the workplace includes:

  • Welcoming and greeting the new joiners
  • Making a quick introduction about your colleagues (front and back)
  • Showing where you will be working and common places (locker, kitchen, toilets…)
  • Handing the uniform maybe, the handbook and the training manuals…
  • And then the briefing.
  • You give them a briefing about the company and the vision and the promise that you as a company you should deliver to your customers.

An important point the employee should fully be aware of is what makes your business different than the competition?


You could be a fine dining restaurant where you deliver a 5-star service, or you have a Michelin-star chef or a fast casual restaurant where your customers feel like they are at home with great ambiance. You could be a supermarket or a delicatessen that provides the best deals to customers at the quality.


So, first thing you sit with your new employees and brief them about what your company stands for, and what are the values and the promise you deliver to make them all aligned around it.


Training, training and training!!


Yes!! It’s this important to train your employees:


Without initial training don’t expect employees to meet job requirements. You do your job and let them do theirs.

  • First, they would present you in their best possible way and it enhances their performance.
  • Second, it shows them that they’re valued which improves their satisfaction and therefore their productivity and as a result decreases turnover.
  • Third , it gives your employees a sense of self-development.


If you want them to continuously deliver, you should continuously train them.


But what should you train your employees on?


Whatever is important to your business.


If you want your employees to smile to your customers and communicate with high mastery, train them on customer service skills and let them explore your restaurant menu item by item.

If you want your employees to know your products’ know how in your retail store to better help your customers, let them work on data entry covering specs and products’ features.

If you want your employees to become good managers, train them on managerial skills and self-development skills. Let them be involved in decision-making in your business.

And always look for training seminars and workshops that introduce innovative ways of doing business and know-how new techniques.


McDonald’s, for instance, introduces all new employees into the business through a welcome meeting giving an overview of the company including job role, food hygiene and safety training (HACCP), policies and procedures, training and development.


McDonald’s believes that the success of the restaurants and the company is achieved through the people it employs and therefore the appraisal system is a vital part of the running system of the company.


and that's why they created the Hamburger University where thousands of employees and franchise operators get trained and certified every year.


Accountability and appraisal


You might think that holding employees accountable makes them want to leave their jobs, but no!

If you don’t want to fire your employees, you can’t hire the best ones.

Employees value appreciation, and so accountability. Good employees should be appraised and bad ones should be questioned.


Appraise your employees through adequate performance appraisal systems.


For this purpose, make sure to have a clear job description in which objectives and the standard of performance are clearly stated so the performance and the employee accomplishments can be measured qualitatively or quantitively.


Communicate to your employee what is expected from him so you can appraise him fairly. Miscommunicating your expectations will likely lead to both your employee and your own disappoint


Reward your employees.


Don’t think it over, just do it as it improves their productivity and keeps them motivated. It highly increases their engagement. You’ll be amazed of how much it affects employees’ morals and makes them eager to give you their best shots.

Showcase your best performers or show them some flexibility regarding work hours after exceeding your expectations or give them a gift card to shop in their favorite shop.


Are you rigid about work hours?


Well, try to provide some flexibility especially if deadlines are respected and work requirements are met.


  • If an employee can’t make it for the morning shift, let them work in the afternoon.
  • Let them have the half day off or 2 hours off instead of a full day when needed especially for doctors’ appointments.
  • Let them have a pool of hours if you have the system for that
  • If work can be taken home, find a way to help your employees work remotely.


Entertain your employees and make them feel they are surrounded by their family at work.


Throw them parties on special occasions, celebrate their birthdays, place a pool table so they unwind on their break and feel like they are operating as one team…

Other examples might be to create team building activities or to surprise them with a full day treatment day at work where they can eat all day long for free.


Offer them a work-life balance.


How to do that without affecting your business?


Just communicate it to your employees that their personal life matters. It actually serves the business’ wellbeing as it decreases your employees’ partner complaints about work taking the most time of their day.


The result?


More employee satisfaction about work-life balance.


In several instances an employee has to work overtime, so make sure you make it up for him on other days where he can leave earlier.


Don’t make your employees feel guilty if they have an emergency and they have to leave work or if they have a personal gathering that needs their presence.

Offer exercising access if possible which makes them healthier and capable of better performance.


Offer tempting benefits whenever possible.


Different benefit plans might include:


  • Development skills and training skills (providing workshops and seminars)
  • Transportation benefits or flexible schedules (working specific hours per week)
  • Bonus plans
  • Offer company shares for managers and long stayers…
  • Education and health insurance benefits
  • Free meals at work and Special employee discount
  • Extra discounts outside of working hours and for family members
  • Flexible schedules or flexible policies…


In this Forbes article, a study by Mercer shows what employees really want at work.


Are you still holding on to this bad performer just because he is nice maybe or because you think you don’t have the luxury of time and money to hire a new one?


Well, it’s time to fire them.


It’s only fair for everybody, you, your employees, your customers and your reputation.

It attracts the best performers as they sense the fairness of your business behaviors so they’ll feel they will be fairly evaluated. Plus, do you want bad employees among safe ones?



Be the leader to your employees not the boss.


Inspire them to perform better, influence and mentor them. Be a role model to them.


Investing in retaining your employees is a cost-effective business behavior that benefits your business and increases productivity and therefore profits.

It attracts the best people out there and it reflects your business culture and the values that are an important factor to consider from both the employees and customers’ side.


Remember your employees join you for a reason, for some they would like to accomplish personal goals and achieve high roles and do something really amazing, for others to pay for their university and join you temporarily.


As an employer you should match your goals with that of the employee for maximum retention.

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