The food service business is notorious for high turnover, sometimes leading to employee apathy and lack of team spirit. Help to foster a feeling of esprit de corps in your workers by holding team-building activities. These projects will improve work skills as well as foster a desire for team members to cooperate and work together.
Choose four or five basic skills your employees need to successfully get through their work day, and hold a series of Olympic trials to find the best two in each "sport." Pizza restaurants across the country do this with the Pizza Olympics, holding contests in dough spinning, pizza-making speed and creative flavorings. Reward your winning Olympians with recognition in the store as well as prizes like gift cards or days off with pay.
Beat the Boss
As the manager of the restaurant, your work skills should be better than anyone on your team. Give your employees something to shoot for when practicing their talent. Set up time trials and skill demonstrations of just how good you are at each job station, then offer a prize to anyone who can beat the boss at her own game. Team members can work together to coach the champions they pit against management, and your staff will improve their skills while bonding as a unit.
Split your staff into two different teams, and pit them against each other in feats of talent. Offer prizes for the team that produces the most product, stocks the most shelves in the least amount of time, gets the most positive response cards in a shift or any other goal that you are trying to reach. Make the prize one the entire team can share, like a Friday night off together having fun, or choice scheduling shifts for a week.
Get a Rival
Much like sports teams with decades-long rivalries, restaurants can band together against a common enemy when faced with a friendly rivalry. If you are in a multi-store corporation, find another manager to work this project with. If you are a stand-alone business, set up a competition with another store in your business. Speak to the other manager, set ground rules for the contest and announce bragging rights in the local media. Make this an annual contest to keep the team building going all year.
Victoria Bailey has owned and operated businesses for 25 years, including an award-winning gourmet restaurant and a rare bookstore. She spent time as a corporate training manager in the third-largest restaurant chain in its niche, but her first love will always be small and independent businesses. Bailey has written for USAToday, Coldwell Banker, and various restaurant magazines, and is the ghostwriter for a nationally-known food safety training guru.