If you run a restaurant or have worked at one in any capacity, you know how stressful it can be at times – especially for servers. Diners arrive hungry, anticipating a hot, delicious meal served in a friendly and timely manner. If anything goes awry, as is bound to happen sometimes, servers are the ones who typically bear the brunt of the customer’s discontent. They also work long hours on their feet and don’t always get huge paychecks.

While many servers find it rewarding in and of itself to create great customer experiences, it’s still crucial that restaurant owners and general managers pay attention to their level of happiness and continually strive to improve it. After all, happy and motivated employees mean increased productivity, as well as satisfied customers who’ll keep coming back for more. Continue reading to find out seven ways you can boost your servers’ happiness and productivity levels so that your restaurant continues to prosper and thrive.

Tip #1: Recognize Their Achievements

“Employee of the Month” bulletin boards are a common way to acknowledge the accomplishments of servers and to incentivize them to work hard. Other options include verbal or written recognition or giving a small token of appreciation like a gift certificate or movie tickets. Just keep in mind that it’s important to be genuine, timely, and specific with any recognition you offer. In addition, keep the staffer’s personality in mind; some people, for example, love being publically recognized, whereas others would find that embarrassing and might prefer a quieter mention of some kind.

Tip #2: Encourage Healthy Competition

One way to both increase sales and potentially make work more interesting and fun for your waitstaff is to encourage friendly competition. An easy way to do this is to occasionally run daily competitions and then award the winner with a prize or name recognition on a restaurant board. For example, a steakhouse might give a $50 gift card to the person who can sell the most filet mignon meals during the dinner shift.

Tip #3: Provide Monthly Sales Targets

Establishing monthly sales goals for your servers will not only incentivize them to achieve a certain level of success but will also motivate them for longer than a day or two. They will likely be eager to reach a larger sales goal and won’t be as discouraged if they have a bad day or two along the way. Exceeding the goal you’ve set for them will also make them feel good and increase their job satisfaction especially if you reward them with a financial bonus.

Tip #4: Offer Ongoing Training

You can’t expect your servers to surpass their sales goals if you don’t provide them with helpful, thorough, and ongoing training. So be sure to provide training – sales and otherwise – that resonates with your staff. Make sure it’s detailed and goes beyond the onboarding stage. Consider using multiple senior staffers to train new hires so they feel well prepared when they venture out on their own. Encourage mentoring and shadowing. And remember that your servers will be happiest if they know what’s expected of them because they’ve been properly trained.

Tip #5: Build a Strong Team Culture 

Just like in any other industry, restaurant staffers are bound to be more satisfied at work when they get along with and feel supported by their team members. As a result, building and nurturing team morale and collaboration should be a high priority. One way to do this is to encourage informal social events – and to arrange restaurant-sponsored ones too. After all, staffers who rock climb, bowl, or just plain hang out together outside of work will probably share in more cohesive, friendly, and encouraging professional relationships which will benefit everyone, including the restaurant and its diners.

Tip #6: Reward Longevity and Loyalty

Another way to keep your servers happy is to reward them if they stay with your restaurant for a long time. By doing this, you’ll experience less turnover and will be better able to retain employees who you’ve invested significant time and resources in training. Offer cash bonuses every time a staffer reaches a six-month milestone with you, and they’ll undoubtedly feel more appreciated and loyal.

Tip #7: Be Generous with Your Praise

More than anything, heap (deserved) praise upon your servers every chance you get and teach your managers to do the same. Most people respond well to compliments as opposed to criticism. While the need for constructive feedback will always be there, you’ll be amazed at the impact positive words can have on your staff, motivating them to work hard and give their all.

Your servers are the face of your restaurant. Whether or not patrons leave satisfied or decide to come back to your restaurant many times is dependent on their demeanor, personality, and competency. Invest in them and your restaurant will flourish. And don’t forget to take advantage of all the free benefits Sirved has to offer your restaurant as well, including an easy-to-use complimentary QR code generation for contactless menus, free advertising solutions, and the ability to keep your menus and information up-to-date across the internet. Learn more and gain access to your 100% free Sirved restaurant toolkit today by claiming your restaurant listing.