How To Motivate Employees When They Have Jobs With Little Advancement Opportunity

Many restaurant owners struggle with how to motivate employees when their jobs have little advancement opportunity. The truth is that you’ll often have staff who are more than happy to work for you with no promise of moving up the ladder at your restaurant. On the other hand, you'll also have employees who feel that they could be contributing more, and who let that affect their motivation and work at your restaurant. If you’re concerned that some employees feel the burden of long hours and hard nights without a clear path to the top, consider the tips below to motivate employees and keep them focused on the task at hand.

Reward them in creative ways

Money and titles are clear motivation for many people. But when you don’t have additional money to offer, and you can’t promote an employee, you need to think of more [creative ways to provide incentives for your team.

Offering more formal recognition is one way to show employees how much you appreciate their work. Highlight their efforts at a staff meeting, or pull them aside individually to thank them for their hard work. You could also offer employees specialized learning opportunities so they can develop their skills and interests. Look for conferences, seminars or other group learning opportunities that will offer unique environments to learn. This vote of confidence will help your employees see that they are valued and that their growth is important to you.

Focus on your work environment

Your employees will spend a lot of time at work. That means the environment at your workplace is incredibly important to their happiness and motivation. And while everyone has different expectations and desires for their workplace culture, there are some things you can do that will create a culture that everyone will thrive in.

Fun is one of the most important, and most valued, parts of a workplace culture. Sure, it’s important to focus on the work of the day, but when employees feel that they can have a little fun on the job, it allows them to relax and take things as they come. Having fun together also increases the sense of camaraderie among your staff. And that’s the kind of work environment that leads to a happy, motivated team.

Mentor everyone

As a manager, it’s easy to get distracted by the high-level needs of your restaurant. There are times when this is very important and it certainly is a critical part of keeping your restaurant running smoothly. But when it comes to keeping your employees motivated, focusing only on your top staff can alienate the rest of your staff and can be a drain on motivation - especially when employees can’t clearly see a path to the top.

When you think about your full team, make sure you’re providing feedback and mentoring opportunities to everyone. You’ll have different mentoring opportunities for different levels and personalities - from helping your back of house staff be more efficient to helping your front of house staff understand business operations - but at the end of the day, the important thing is to offer these opportunities for growth equally. Ultimately, it will lead to stronger individuals and a stronger collective.

Involve them in decision making

Even if you’re not able to offer your employees a promotion or a traditional path for advancement, you can offer clear indications that their input is valuable to you and that you respect their work. When you have important decisions to make, it’s easy to rely on a few key employees - but expanded your circle of decision makers is a great way to further connect your employees to the core of your business.

When you’re facing a big decision, take a moment to step back and assess the bigger picture. Are there others in your organization that can help bring a fresh perspective to a problem? If so, pull them aside and ask for their input in a one-on-one conversation. They’ll appreciate being asked to weigh in, and you’ll get a point-of-view from someone outside your regular circle. This can be mutually beneficial - and in many cases, when you show this respect and interest in an employee’s opinion, they feel even more closely tied to your mission and their work.

Advancement opportunities aren’t the only way to motivate employees. Hopefully this posts has helped you discover new ways to motivate your employees, even if they won’t be made manager anytime soon.