In my first post on how to utilize your Generation Y workforce, I explained how to find and hire the best Gen Y workers. In this post, I’ll share more tips from Sean Finter of Barmetrix on how to best utilize your young workforce. During his information session at the International Restaurant & Foodservice Show of New York, Finter explained that there are three levels of engagement when it comes to your employees: engaged, disengaged and actively disengaged. To keep your workers engaged and growing — and keep active disengagement from spreading like a virus — Finter follows a few simple rules.
Follow the “napkin rule.” When communicating with young staff members, it’s important to speak their language, and remember to keep things concise. Back when Finter was consulting for the U.K.-based company Sports Cafe, he learned the importance of keeping business strategies short and sweet, especially when it comes to dealing with young workers who “don’t even have time to read their university textbooks,” much less an entire manual. Sports Cafe told Finter they wanted a set of guidelines that could fit on one side of a napkin, so that’s exactly what he gave them. Now, anyone who works at an establishment associated with Barmetrix knows the value of a pared-down plan.
Tell workers what to do. It may be hard to believe that a small square of paper can contain a brand’s philosophies on operations, sales and marketing, but when you reduce each of these to simple directives, there isn’t much explanation needed. “Take your Gen Y staff and tell them exactly what you want … and they’ll deliver,” Finter said. In the category of operations, Finter simply tells workers to make the customer smile by having genuine interactions with diners and maintaining a positive attitude. Workers contribute to sales and marketing by creating a positive retail environment and giving them a reason to come back, which means encouraging customers to spend because they want to further their own experience, not because they feel pressured. “When you want that $25 bottle of wine and … they push the $75 bottle of wine, you don’t want that. You’re not going to return there,” Finter explained.
Offer some technical support. After making sure workers understand your company’s philosophy, make sure they have an understanding of day-to-day operations, and give them a support system that speaks their language. Finter suggests creating videos that highlight standout staff members explaining how they offer great customer service when dropping off a check or how to mix a certain drink at the bar. Other staff members can learn from their peers, and the video format will resonate more with young workers than a simple memo or discussion in a staff meeting might.
Make time to celebrate. When you hire the right people and give them the tools and support they need to succeed, good things are bound to happen for your restaurant. And that’s a reason to celebrate! Take time to recognize your employees when they do something great, and make sure that you’re a part of those celebrations. If you hired the right workers, they should be the kind of people you want to spend time around, and Finter suggests that managers take the time to bring their staff together to celebrate the end of a banner year, or any other major job well done. Day-to-day, you can make sure workers feel appreciated by giving them time to celebrate their personal victories. Finter recommends starting each shift with a group huddle where each staff member gets to name the best thing about their day. The practice may seem simple, but workers will ride the wave of positive energy into their upcoming shift, which means a more upbeat, engaged staff.