Employee Engagement

Tips for restaurant owners on getting more employee feedback

By Akshay Sachdeva

Mar. 8, 2022


  • Collecting employee feedback gives staff a voice and catalyzes new solutions.

  • There are five main ways to increase the amount of employee feedback you recieve.

  • Keeping the communication channels open with employees will encourage them to provide feedback frequently, at any time.

Usually, feedback is perceived as something being given by the employer to their employees. However, receiving feedback from your employees could be a real game-changer for your restaurant.

Why is employee feedback important?

Feedback makes employees feel empowered. It provides them a voice and makes them feel like their opinions matter. Employee feedback catalyzes new solutions. It might spark new ideas that you can use for improving customer service, streamlining your kitchen processes, creating new dishes to serve, modifying your recipes, and more. Restaurant owners get invaluable insights from employees who have on-the-ground, customer-facing experience.

So, the big question is, how do you gather more employee feedback? Here are some tips:

1. Create a culture of feedback

You create a culture of feedback by making it easy for employees to give feedback at any time. Giving and receiving feedback needs to become a part of your organizational values for you to create this culture.

Give your employees a voice. You’ll only hear what they have to say if they speak up! Actively encourage them to provide feedback by telling them they have the power to communicate.

Nurture honest communication in the workplace, but also understand that this honest and open dialogue can lead to conflict. Learn to be comfortable with feedback that may be difficult to hear and create an environment that allows both managers and employees to communicate without hesitation.

View employee feedback with the perspective that running your restaurant is a team sport. View your employees as your allies and build rapport with them. The stronger your rapport is, the more comfortable they’ll feel contributing their ideas to your business.

Creating a culture of feedback is a team effort. While collecting employee feedback is critical, don’t forget to give them your feedback using the right tools and applications. The right tool should let you provide employees with regular shift feedback regarding performance levels, areas of opportunity, and workplace success.

By giving your employees feedback, you’ll inadvertently encourage them to provide their own feedback, since they will feel they need to reciprocate and fit in with the feedback culture.

2. Allow employees to give feedback anonymously

Giving feedback anonymously is sometimes a safe way for both employees and restaurant owners to bring the truth out into the open.

Some employees may not be comfortable sharing honest feedback in person. This could be for several reasons. Maybe they have a strong complaint against another employee and don’t want to talk about it openly. Perhaps they disagree with you on something but don’t want to risk their job, or it could be something else.

One way to do this is to create Google forms/surveys that ask confidential questions, allowing employees to leave their feedback anonymously. Such feedback surveys with the right questions can give you invaluable written feedback to improve how you run your restaurant.

Your feedback surveys can ask questions that are usually unspoken, like: What were some of your pain points while working this week? How challenged do you feel at work on a daily basis? What are some things you’d like to change about running this restaurant and why? Is there any training you’d like to receive from us?

Another tactic you can use to collect feedback anonymously is to create a suggestion box. Using apps like Culture Amp, it’s possible to create an online suggestion box where employees can leave their feedback anonymously. Alternatively, you could create a physical box where people can drop an anonymous note with their feedback.

3. Set up regular feedback sessions

Set up regular feedback sessions and meet your employees in person. These interactions can teach you more about each employee’s sentiments because they give you body language cues that you can’t get from strictly written or vocal feedback. Make sure you set up both group and individual feedback sessions that are face to face to collectively gather a variety of perspectives.

Make your feedback sessions specific by creating focus groups. For instance, you could have one focus group just for collecting feedback about your customer service and one just for your restaurant’s interior decoration.

A popular Mexican restaurant chain, Chipotle, started hosting ‘listening sessions’ for employees. This was during the time when racial tensions were intense due to George Floyd’s death. Leadership at the business set up virtual chat sessions to listen to employees voice real-life concerns.

Organized by store leadership, these sessions asked employees questions like “What are the three words that describe how you’re feeling?” or “What is the one thing you want executive leadership to know?” and “What should we be doing to create and cultivate a better world?”

The notes from these sessions resulted in all of the change initiatives, both internal and external, that Chipotle decided to implement. One of the goals of these initiatives was to hire 10,000 employees to support growth through and after COVID. Chipotle launched a ‘We are hiring’ campaign and hired 8,000 new employees through it.

4. Incentivize employees to provide feedback

Elon Musk says, “A well thought out critique of whatever you’re doing is as valuable as gold.” If feedback is as valuable as gold, giving incentives to employees to provide feedback seems like a good bargain. Provide both monetary and non-monetary incentives to your employees for providing their feedback.

A few examples of non-monetary incentives could be to offer them a work shift of their choice for many weeks in a row, a mentoring or training program to help them with professional development, or quite simply, free meals at your restaurant at the end of their shift.

Make the process of seeking feedback more fun by ‘gamifying’ it. Giving and receiving feedback should be seen as a fun exercise that your employees look forward to. You can do this by giving employee bonuses proportional to the quality and quantity of feedback provided by employees. Another option is hosting ‘employee of the month’ competitions, with feedback being a solid determinant of who the employee of the month should be. Doing gift giveaways (like giving t-shirts or other goodies) for employees that take feedback-giving seriously could also be a good idea.

5. Have a simple shift feedback tool

Employees should be encouraged to leave feedback on every shift when they go to clock out. However, staff won’t feel the need to do this if giving feedback is a difficult and tedious process. Usually, mobile time clock apps are the best way to open up an efficient avenue for employees to provide regular feedback.

A shift feedback tool should allow you to gather actionable data on what went well during shifts and what did not go well. It should also give staff the option to leave additional notes for shift managers. For instance, wait staff may leave some negative feedback on a certain day because poor scheduling resulted in a short-staffing issue. Or kitchen staff may leave positive feedback if they had good communication with the wait staff on a day with unusually high sales. Employees can also use this opportunity to justify their actions in case any customers have complained about them.

All of this information your employees provide can be used by managers to pinpoint frontline issues in scheduling, burnout, and engagement.

Keep communication open between employees and owners

Open the lines of communication with your employees so they’re able to provide feedback at any time. Feedback shouldn’t just be viewed as a distracting exercise that needs to be completed on brief occasions; it should be encouraged and built into your workforce management system.

To discuss how you can encourage your employees to give more feedback, get in touch with us.

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