small business, people and service concept - happy man or waiter in apron at bar or coffee shop

When it comes to employee satisfaction and productivity, payroll does not prevail. In fact, focusing solely on financials can achieve the opposite effect, leaving employees feeling unmotivated and underwhelmed. While a healthy, reliable paycheck certainly is appreciated (after all, those bills aren’t going to pay themselves), there is more to the equation than dollars and cents.

Most restaurateurs have seen or felt the consequences of poor productivity at some point in their careers. Feelings of discontent often lead to spikes in unplanned absenteeism and turnover, which causes service quality and morale (among other things) to suffer. Given absenteeism costs U.S. companies billions of dollars each year, managers and owners must do all they can to create workplaces that are as inviting as they are engaging.

So what is today’s workforce looking for, and how can you create a restaurant that measures up?

What Employees Want from Their Employers


“I don’t want to feel like I’m being talked at; I want to feel like I’m part of the conversation.”

Talking to your employees might seem like a no-brainer, but figuring out how to effectively communicate across generations and platforms can be a tricky business.

Restaurant manager discussing with chef in kitchen. Cook preparing a dish with restaurant owner standing by.

Creating a culture of communication is about more than instant messaging and team huddles; it’s about ensuring that, no matter the method, your staff feel valued and heard. Being transparent about struggles and successes, regularly soliciting feedback and ideas, and keeping the lines of communication open are just a few ways to get your restaurant moving in the right direction.


“I want a modern workplace that uses modern technology. Old school? Not cool.”

Excel spreadsheets and dial-up internet have no place in today’s connected world. When asked what makes an ideal workplace, 81 percent of U.S. workers rated state-of-the-art technology above things like food and drink incentives and other on-site amenities.

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An ever-changing landscape can make staying across the latest restaurant technologies feel daunting, but trust us: It’s worth it. Leveraging technology to enhance your restaurant’s workflows doesn’t necessarily mean onboarding a robot chef; something as simple as investing in employee scheduling software or a modern restaurant point of sale proves you’re committed to the future of work.  


“I work to live, not live to work. My workplace needs to respect that.”

Much of the hospitality sector’s appeal—especially when compared to a traditional 9-to-5 setup—is its flexibility. Workers feel they can effectively balance their hours against school, family, and other commitments.

Although opportunities for remote work in the restaurant industry are limited, there are other ways to still create feelings of ownership over working conditions. Open shifts (shifts not assigned to a particular employee) for pick-up are one such example: Staff are free to bid on them based on interest and availability. Another is to provide staff a clear means of submitting their own availability to ensure that shifts are built around their schedules, and not the other way around.


“I want to feel challenged at work. Help me grow, or watch me go.”

Did you know the average person changes jobs between 10 and 15 times over the course of a career? Sometimes the causes of these changes is outside your control, but a stagnant work environment could be the last straw. Coupled with the fact that the average age of a hospitality workers is 29 years old, you can be sure that your staff have a lot of job changes ahead of them that will probably not be with your business.

Gen Zers consider clear career-pathing and opportunities for advancement mission critical; given this group will represent one third of the population by 2020, now is the time to heed that call. Make the benefits and opportunities that come with a role at your restaurant known early, and known often.

Check out Upserve’s Staff Management Guide!

Written by   |  
Jessica Reimer is the Content Producer for 7shifts, an employee scheduling app designed for restaurant based in beautiful Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. She works with the rest of the 7shifts marketing team to help their customers all over the world save time scheduling, reduce labor costs, and improve communication in their businesses. Jessica has authored feature pieces and blog posts for a number of provincial, national, and international publications and specializes in psychology, community engagement, lifestyle, and business communications.