Staff Incentives

So you have done everything possible and analyzed all your numbers and confirmed you cannot offer staff benefits at this time.

What else can you do? Over and over, I will continue to repeat that retaining employees is one of the hardest challenges for any restaurant. As owners and managers, we are all aware of this. We have the tools and resources so why are we not doing something about it? Too many restaurants look at the bigger picture on what they would like to provide in the future instead of what they are capable of doing in the immediate term.

Employees leave for different reasons, but many leave for the same reasons. I have witnessed dozens of highly talented individuals quit the restaurant. Some move on to other restaurants while others decide to change careers. At the end, a restaurant is left struggling to maintain their operation with the same consistent service. If we ensure employees are happy, then more than likely they will work harder for you. The harder they work, the end results are better for everyone.

Incentives versus Benefits

Forget about staff benefits for minute and think about what you can offer now in a smaller scale. Staff benefits are long-term and expensive while staff Incentives generally are inexpensive and can be provided immediately.

As I mentioned previously in my article “The Power of Two Words,” restaurants underestimate the power of a simple “Thank you.” Likewise, restaurants often do not place enough value on incentives. Staff incentives do not have to be large in any shape or form.

Some of the incentives I have received or given to my staff as a motivational tool include:

  • Complimentary movie tickets for a job well done
  • Bottle of wine for highest departmental sales
  • Staff events such as dinner and drinks at a restaurant
  • Annual staff Christmas party
  • Lotto tickets
  • $50 gift card to you choice of retailer (i.e. Chapters, Best Buy)
  • $100 bonus for “Employee of the month”
  • Holiday with pay on your birthday

Staff incentives are a great way to improve employee productivity, motivation and morale. Regardless of whether you decide to implement benefits in the future, staff incentives can remain in place for the entire span of the operation. Staff incentives are a cost effective method that provides immediate results.

What are some incentives have you been provided?

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5 Responses to “Staff Incentives”

  1. Sherxr Says:

    Hi! Do you give out drinks at the end of the night shift?
    We have that practice in summer! And all of us felt so good and appreciated after a hard day’s work especially in summer!!! Cheers for beer!

  2. TheRestaurantBlogger Says:

    It sounds like your workplace treats you right. Not too many places will provide such great benefits and incentives especially for not being a full time employee. It’s nice to hear that there are restaurants out there that are giving back and appreciating their staff.

    As to your question about drinks, I haven’t given out any drinks to the staff at the end of the shift. Unless it was a staff event, there would be complimentary drinks given to those of age. However, I do plan to incorporate “sampling wine and beer” on a weekly routine to educate my staff so they can better suggest drinks to the customer. But I am sure all your teammates would definitely be happy to receive free drinks as most staff would. For all the restaurants I have managed, it just seems that all the staff ever requested was our ice cream. So at the end of a shift, staff would be offered a scoop or two.

  3. Food Service Ninja Says:


    rem tho-

    once you offer the contest no matter what the outcome award the prize(cover your costs by having min sales level to activate the prize, ie wine sales of min $100 per server for the night)

    when you want servers to sell stuff that costs them money like bunch of wine you want gone on a fire sale make it a better prize- when you lower my sales for the night my tips gets reduced

  4. guinness416 Says:

    Maybe it’s different in Canada, but when I was bartending in Ireland nothing was more team building and relaxing than a free pint or three at the end of the shift. Well, when we closed the place, not when we finished at 3pm :) . A small thing, but definitely appreciated.

  5. TheRestaurantBlogger Says:

    I did some research and spoke to some people in the industry as to the laws of giving out free drinks to restaurant employees. In Canada, the laws differ in each province. However, from my understanding it is illegal for owners to give out any alcohol to staff regardless if its at the end of the night. It is also against the law to reduce the price for your staff. However, places like British Columbia states that owners can give a complimentary drink to a customer as long as it is not multiple drinks that would lead to over consumption. However in Ontario, this is not allowed at all. As much as give out drinks is a nice gesture to the staff, we have to follow the law since we could lose our liquor license.

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