How To Motivate Staff Who Are There For A Short Time

How To Motivate Staff Who Are There For A Short Time

Improve employee morale to motivate your staff.

The restaurant industry is one of the biggest employers in the United States. In fact, according to restaurant.org, there are more than 14 million restaurant employees in the US.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that 10% of the workforce is made up of restaurant employees, and restaurants continue to be one of the strongest job creators.

Yet, with this plethora of job openings and employees, the restaurant industry is ripe with turnover.

To help you avoid turnover, especially with your part-time and seasonal staff, we look at how to motivate staff who are there for a short time.

Utilize Full-Time Staff

Use your regular staff members to train and partner with your short-time staff.

This goes a long way toward making your seasonal team members feel welcome.

Assign a full-time employee to each one of your short-time employees either for training or a re-fresher if they are returning employees.

Make sure your full-time employees know what is expected of them. You want them to train your short-time staff and explain how each aspect of the job is done.

This mentor relationship makes your short-time employees feel valued and appreciated.

Show Your Appreciation

One of the best ways to motivate staff is to say thank you and to recognize their achievements. (tweet this)

Employees who feel appreciated and comfortable in their jobs also perform better than those who don’t feel that way. Because your employees are important to the overall customer service at your restaurant, make sure they feel appreciated so they can pass on the good will.

For example, your short-time staff member does a really great job of taking a table’s order and providing customer service. Make sure you recognize it. Just a simple, “good job,” will suffice.

This is also good to remember for all of your employees. Something that only takes you a few seconds goes a long way to making your employees feel part of the team.

You can also choose to recognize employees in a group setting such as regular staff meetings.

It’s also good to remember that if you are employing Millennials and the younger set to reinforce them a lot. They’ve grown up expecting it, and if you don’t provide positive reinforcement, they won’t show the motivation necessary to be a team player.

Give Them the Big Picture

While your short-time employees may think of your restaurant as just a way to make a few dollars, it’s up to you to show them the big picture.

You want to help them understand why it’s important for them to do a good job while providing excellent service. Show them how doing their job well will help them in the long term.

Consider beginning each shift with a quick two-minute pep talk. Explain how you want your restaurant to be your customers’ go-to and to do that you not only have to provide great food but excellent service.

Help your staff members understand that providing a great customer experience is up to them.

Make It Enjoyable

It’s no “fun” working at a job that isn’t enjoyable.

Restaurants who make work fun may enjoy less turnover and better employee morale. (tweet this)

Does this mean you have to spend a lot of money to make things fun? Not necessarily.

Consider quarterly team-building and fun activities. After hours, invite your employees to share a meal together. Have holiday parties. Do what you can to make work fun for your employees, and you’ll find this motivates your short-time, full-time and seasonal staff members.

motivate staff

Happy staff is motivated staff.


Make time for your staff, and you’ll find this provides excellent motivation.

Set aside a regular time to meet with your employees and discuss their job as well as their aspirations. Find out what makes them tick.

Just showing interest in their lives can help your short-time staff members feel a part of your restaurant’s team. Show an interest by asking about school, vacation, family, their weekend and more.

An open-door policy is another way to make short-time staff feel welcome, so make sure you are available to your employees. Let your staff know they are welcome to share ideas, complaints and concerns with you.

Offer Incentives

Another way to motivate your staff is to have an end-of-season celebration where you reward staff who performed well.

Your short-time staff will look forward to the party and the prizes. You can give away gift cards and movie passes as well as small gifts. This encourages your staff to perform well so they can earn the rewards.

Do Something as a Group

Another way to motivate staff is to get together in a social atmosphere outside of your restaurant.

Play in a softball league or begin a bowling team. For those who are not athletic, do something crafty together like a painting or ceramics afternoon workshop.

Volunteer together and create even stronger bonds.

Develop friendships outside of your restaurant, and you’ll motivate your staff and build camaraderie.

Conduct Exit Interviews

If you want to retain your current short-time staff the following year, it’s a good idea to have exit interviews.

This is your employee’s chance to tell you how they feel about their jobs, and it gives you insight into what you are doing right and where you can improve.

Exit interviews show your employees you care about their opinions.

Final Thoughts

Now that we’ve answered the question of how to motivate staff who are there for a short time, it’s time to put these strategies into practice.

While many restaurants rely on seasonal employees such as high school and college students or people who want extra work at certain times of the year, the trick is to keep them coming back season after season.

It’s helpful to you if they return year after year because these workers are already trained, and you don’t have to invest time and money into training new employees.

Yet, reducing seasonal turnover is hard. The best way to do it is to engage your short-time employees by offering them incentives to keep them coming back and by working hard to make them feel like part of the team.

Have you found ways to motivate staff who are there for a short time? If so, we’d love to hear about them. Please share them here!

Images: Khachik Simonian and Patryk Sobczak

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