The old expression “time is money” really does apply in restaurants, coffee bars and other food service businesses. Every minute that employees take away from work can cost your enterprise money, and those losses can really add up.

As a result, most restaurants hire staffers, train them fast, and get them working as quickly as possible. At first glance, this approach seems to make sense in terms of productivity and profits. But does it really? Wouldn’t it be better to invest a little time to build your staff into a real, high-functioning team? Doing so might take a little time and cost money in the short term, but it can result in better productivity and profitability for some very important reasons.

Staffers who feel that they are part of a team . . .

  • Communicate better and make fewer mistakes
  • Deliver better customer service
  • Deal better with workplace stress
  • Cooperate better about taking personal time off, covering for each other, and other nuts-and-bolts issues that are part of working in a restaurant
  • Build a happier atmosphere that your customers will sense
  • Are more likely to observe required protocols and procedures about safe food handling, hand washing, and other essentials

Building Team Spirit without Spending Too Much

As we noted at the start of this post, time is money in a food service business. You can’t afford to shut down your business for a day while you send all your staffers off to take part in team-building exercises and experiences.

Yet even if you have only a little time to invest, you can still build a great team spirit among your employees by taking these steps:

  • Take time to introduce new staffers to the established members of their team. You can say, for example, “Jeanne, this is our new sous-chef Paul . . . you both graduated from the same culinary institute.” This kind of intro takes only a second, but builds a team.
  • Create settings where employees can socialize with each other. For example, you can set aside a table or a small side room where your waiters and waitresses can sit together and enjoy a complimentary dinner before evening shifts. Creating opportunities for employees to share time together will help mold them into a team.
  • Hold events outside of work where employees can connect and get to know each other. Even something simple like an employee picnic outside of regular working hours can help build your team. Encourage them to bring their families along.
  • Create opportunities for employees to connect. Even something as simple as a bulletin board on the wall in an employee locker room can allow employees to post notices and stay in touch with each other.
  • Provide small extra perks for employees. A parking area for employees only – located conveniently with clear signs – lets your employees know that they are part of a valued team. So can an employee discount program that you set up at a local store. If you think creatively, you can come up with low-cost ways to reward employees for being part of your team.
  • Consider taking part in community sponsorships and events. Check out what is happening in the community and offer your employees the opportunity to take part. You can field a company team in a 12K road race, let your employees volunteer at a hospital or a food bank, or take part in a day of community service. When they work side-by-side on projects when they are not on the job, they will connect on deeper levels.

“Welcome to Our Team  . . . Welcome to Your Team”

Employees who sense they are part of a team work better and become more loyal to their jobs. The small investments of time and resources you make in team-building will pay you back in more ways than you expect.