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Giorgio’s Corner: September-October 2016

How to retain loyal and amazing staff


September 21, 2016
By Giorgio Taverniti

Topics

The most important factor in the success of a business is the product or service it offers and the quality of its staff.

Even the most popular business can take a turn for the worse by not having loyal and – let’s face it – amazing staff. In today’s workforce, especially in restaurants, the employee turnover rate is high, which makes employee loyalty a low priority. Everyone wants the bigger and better job. I get it! We all want that better job or that job that has no weekend shifts – the one that offers more perks or a better boss! As a small business owner, I know that my staff is just as crucial to me as the product I produce and serve. I want my clients to see a familiar face when they come into my restaurant. I don’t want a revolving door of new people every couple of months. That family restaurant feeling is something I want extended to my clients and staff. I also want my employees to feel genuinely proud of where they work and to treat my baby (the restaurant), as if it were their own.  

So how does a business owner retain their loyal and amazing staff? My approach to inspire loyalty and have grade A+ genuine work environment is to offer fair wages, provide encouragement, show appreciation, give rewards and provide constant acknowledgment.

Minimum wage is a set standard across the board. It is just that: the minimum. Employers can pay their staff more if they are able to and choose to. If a business is doing well, it makes sense to increase an employee’s wage.

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What employers need to understand is that great employees are hard to come by and keeping the great ones is an even harder task. Providing an increase in an employee’s wage can set you apart from other businesses and win loyalty from your employees to stay and grow with your business. It will show you are willing to start someone off with a little more than the law requires you to. This alone will showcase your generosity. Similarly, if an employee is at the minimum and goes above and beyond, reward them: even a small increase is appreciated and noticed. This increase can also offset other perks you may not be able to offer that bigger businesses can such as medical and dental benefits.        

All employees have different strengths and areas that need improvement, as we all do. It’s important to pay attention to your staff and really observe where they shine. Give them goals and challenges so that even a part-time job as a server can be challenging and help them grow. When I see an employee who craves more than the job description, I observe their strengths and give them extra tasks and responsibilities. Additional tasks like asking them to assist with the restaurants’ social media accounts or putting them in charge of the drink inventory and reordering are small but important. These small but empowering acts make employees feel they are an important part of the business and contributing to its operations and overall success.

When you need to address areas of improvement, treat your employees how you would want to be treated. Resist disciplining them like you might a child in trouble; they are your employees and always deserve to be treated kindly and respectfully. Remember they are a reflection of you: if you treat them properly, they will treat you, your clients and your business the same way.   

It’s important to respect your employees and build a relationship with them. My staff is a vital part of my business. I make it a point to get to know them, not only by their work strengths but also by their personality. I ask what interests them and what their future goals are. I ask about their families and invite them to sit down with mine for an end-of-the-night dinner (a tradition at my restaurant). We spend so much time with the people we work with that it really becomes a second family. This may seem unnecessary to some who feel they are the boss and not there to be friends with their employees, but building a relationship with your staff is essential.

Acknowledgment! This simple gesture can help you keep your awesome staff. I’m sure we all experience critiques at work of what we do wrong or need to improve on, but how often is a job well done praised? Positive reinforcement is vital to any relationship but especially in a business. No one wants to hear only what they need to improve on; everyone wants to know they are doing a great job.

Try surprising your staff by giving them a gift card, offering an extended paid day off or letting them leave early as a token of your appreciation for their constant great service.   

I believe this approach is the best in retaining your staff, keeping them happy and having a positive and fun work environment based on mutual respect. I hope it works for you guys too!


Giorgio Taverniti owns Frank’s Pizza House in Toronto, which has been in his family since 1990. A graduate of George Brown College’s culinary management and Italian culinary programs, Giorgio helped found a popular pizza-making workshop at the college and ran it for three years.