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The importance of staff meals for restaurant teams

Posted by Ana Cvetkovic on Oct 30, 2018 9:30:00 AM
Ana Cvetkovic

Savvy full-service restaurateurs know that building a strong team is important. According to Deloitte, 88% of employees and 94% of executives believe that “a distinct workplace culture is important to business success." Having a world-class culture can help you retain and attract top talent, which is hard to do in the restaurant industry.

How to transform your restaurant team into advocates_650x350_1

Because of time pressures, there is rarely an opportunity to do traditional ‘team building’ activities in the restaurant industry. Yet, one of the best opportunities for team-building is staring restaurateurs in the face – team meals. Here’s why your restaurant should not miss out on this sacred industry ritual, plus some team dinner ideas for making your next pre-service family meal special.

Help team members become family

The hospitality industry has a shockingly high annual employee turnover rate - 73%! A lack of empathy and satisfaction in the job market greatly contributes to the $600 billion annual productivity loss felt by American businesses. With only 55% of Americans saying they’re satisfied with their jobs, something has to be done to build empathy and happiness in the workplace.

When your team can come together regularly to enjoy the fruits of their labor during a staff meal, they feel a sense of kinship towards each other, and a sense of belonging to your restaurant. When your employees feel like family, they are more satisfied with their jobs and loyal to you, the restaurateur. When employees are loyal, they’re more likely to continue working for you. Ultimately, retaining employees saves you hassle and money - between 30-50% of annual salary for an entry-level role.

To encourage further bonding between your team, let them brainstorm team meal ideas - like a theme day or inviting a special guest to eat with your staff - to make pre-service mealtime something to look forward to. Team meals are an irreplaceable community-building tool for the restaurant industry.

Stengthen staff education

Does your service team need help to sell your restaurant’s daily specials? Does your back-of-house team struggle with understanding the importance of mise en place? Here’s a team dinner idea: make your meals lunch-and-learn style.

Team meals are an excellent time to strengthen your team’s industry knowledge by screening educational videos. Look for a hospitality-industry specific online training program, like Typsy, to really nail your restaurant’s pain points.

Studies show that 65% of people are visual learners. Supplementing mealtime with video training is a team meal idea that will create an opportunity for continued education, in addition to team bonding.  

Opportunity to swap skills

When service time begins, your staff members don’t have time to interact with each other outside of their roles or to cross train each other. Staff mealtime is when your team members can help each other grow their skills collaboratively.

Team meals are a special opportunity for front-of-house and back-of-house employees to swap skills. Even if your servers won’t be making steak anytime soon and your line cooks won’t be taking orders tomorrow, cross-training will help your team members better understand the processes and challenges that come with each role. Ultimately, your team will be able to provide a better guest experience by understanding what’s going on in front of or behind the scenes. Restaurant family meals facilitate valuable cross-training opportunities.

Opportunity to learn new tools

Has your restaurant introduced a new restaurant scheduling platform or communication tool? Use team meal time to go over questions your team members have about these new tools.

By encouraging your staff to ask questions aloud while they’re together, you will only have to answer these questions once, saving you time in the future to focus on business activities that move your bottom line.

Brainstorming questions together can also help your team uncover questions they may not have thought of individually. This collaborative approach to learning new tools makes your team better equipped to use them. Being together for familymeals gives your team an opportunity to grow in ways they otherwise wouldn’t have time for.

Share important messages

Have you ever sent a staff-wide email and felt like you were shouting into the abyss, or put a sticky note up in your restaurant’s kitchen and hoped your entire team would see it without much success? Making announcements in person is the most effective way of sharing them. Take advantage of staff meal time to share important messages with your team.

Family meals are also an excellent time to discuss subjects that are a collaborative effort, such as reviewing time off requests. When your whole team is present, they can easily discuss shift switches. If you have too much to discuss during one restaurant family meal, you can always follow up on your team’s mobile communication platform. Share announcements during staff meals to keep everyone in the loop and on the same page.


Get feedback

In addition to making important announcements during meal time, staff meals are an opportunity for your team to provide feedback to you and your management team. Rather than hearing about an issue that may affect your business when it’s too late, you can encourage your staff to report problems during team meals so that they can be addressed immediately. 

If a team member doesn’t want to stick their neck out, they can always use a shift feedback system to provide their feedback in an automated fashion that can help improve operations. Leverage staff meal time to gain feedback that will help your restaurant business grow. Without much other time for team building activities, restaurants need to take advantage of pre-service staff meal time. Team meals are the perfect opportunity for restaurateurs to build a team culture, educate their staff, and communicate with the entire team. 


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7shifts are a proud partner of Typsy. Become a Typsy partner today and start reaping the benefits of being part of an expanding online hospitality community.


Ana_Cvetkovic Ana Cvetkovic is a freelancer and content producer for 7shifts. She is also the CEO of BLOOM Digital Marketing, a Boston-based creative marketing agency that helps the hospitality and tourism industries reach new audiences online.


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Topics: Hospitality managers, Restaurants, Hospitality training