5 Restaurant Staff Incentive Ideas To Inspire And Motivate Your Employees

Restaurant Staff serving customers

With a happy and well-motivated restaurant staff, you can take your restaurant business to the peak of its success. Contented restaurant staff will deliver stellar restaurant customer service, which will help you in retaining customers. However, you must realize that you cannot foster loyalty in your team unless you make them feel valued. Giving a restaurant staff incentive is thus a great way to make your employees feel appreciated. 

How To Provide Incentives To Your Restaurant Staff

Incentives will help you to build a band of loyal restaurant staff. It will make them feel needed and necessary, and in turn, they will deliver optimum service that will help your restaurant blossom. It will be a motivating factor for which they will work. They will have a target to achieve, and this will help them to work as a team with greater vigor. In addition to this, incentive programs will help in increasing the loyalty of the employees towards your restaurant, coupled with this; it will help in reducing employee turnover and absent ratesReduced turnover rates will automatically help restaurants to save up a lot of money, which they would have otherwise incurred from the repeated recruitment process.

Naveen Pai talks about staff involvement

There are multiple ways through which you can evaluate your staff’s performance and provide lucrative incentives to them. Some of the criteria on which restaurant staff incentives can be provided are mentioned below.


It is not unlikely that you will come across some restaurant employees who are of the habit of taking day-offs, rather more frequently than usual. Knowing that when a restaurant is short on staff, there are high chances that the service provided will not be at an optimum level. Even after scheduling the employees, if an employee takes leave or comes late, it might put enormous pressure on your other staff, affect their service. 

To deter any such circumstances it is highly recommended that restaurant owners introduce the concept of incentives based on attendance. Calculate your staff performance in every quarter, and offer a cash reward for the employees who have one or no call-ins or absences. When your staff knows that failing to show up will result in a loss of their bonus, it will help motivate them to come in and be regular.

2. Performance-Based

Monitor your staff performance quite keenly and offer them rewards and hikes based on their performance. With the help of a robust restaurant management software, you will be able to gauge the performance of each and every staff of yours. It will help you to receive a detailed report of the number of tables covered, the total worth of the items sold, and the amount of discount conferred. This has two-fold advantages; if you find that one employee is performing exceptionally well, you can boost them further with incentives, on the other hand, you can arrange training sessions for the ones who aren’t performing that well.

Stellar Incentive Ideas To Retain Your Employees

Once you have made up your mind on the ways to monitor your staff performance, you need to find effective ways of providing your employees with incentives. Here are five restaurant staff incentive ideas that are certainly going to prove useful in keeping your employees happy and also reduce employee turnover. 

1. Award Individual Bonuses 

It is needless to mention that a bonus can be a motivating factor for all, be it a chef or a server. Monitor their performance and check who is putting in that extra effort to deliver a splendid customer experience and offer bonuses or rewards when you deem fit. The surprise rewards tend to inspire the staff and motivate them to maintain the high standard of their performance.

Choose an employee who performed exceptionally for a month and honor him with an employee of the month award. Highlighting the employee of the month, you can also make a great social media post! Such actions will boost your other employees to give their best as well, and in turn, will help you to run your restaurant better with the services provided by them.

restaurant staff incentive ideas to retain employees
Source: Twitter

Every time a server is able to sell an item of high-profit-margin or an item that is overstocked in the inventory, you can acknowledge their efforts with a gift coupon and vouchers. Surprising your staff with lucrative and attractive gift certificates and vouchers like a free hotel stay, a day at the spa, ticket vouchers of the movie theater will always make your servers happy.

You can use the concept of online reviews to encourage your employees further to work better and reduce the employee turnover rate of your restaurant. Provide each of your restaurant servers with a business card. The card should say something like “My name is ______ I hope you enjoyed your experience today. Give us a review on _________(website details) and mention my name.” At the end of a month or at the end of a quarter, the employee with the most positive reviews wins the reward. You can rather easily turn the online review challenge into an enticing opportunity for your team members to shine.

2. Introduce Team Bonuses 

You can pair a member from the back-of-house with a front-of-house member. Whichever pair performs incredibly gets the award. For example, being on time 3 days in a row= + 5 points, perfect side work for one week= +10 points, forgetting to clock out = -3 points. The pair that has the highest number of points at the end of the estimated period is provided with a bonus or a gift card. Such a group effort will ensure that even if an employee is lousy, he will have to put in that extra effort for his team members.

3. Offer ESOPS

It is human nature that one feels more committed to the work they are doing if they have a sense of belonging as well as ownership of that job. Offering ESOPS is thus becoming a popular restaurant staff incentive method of rewarding employees as well, making them more committed to the organization. ESOP or Employee Stock Ownership Plan is an employee benefit that gives employees ownership or stakes in the company.

The Beer Cafe is an excellent example of how providing a restaurant staff incentive builds loyalty within the staff and also reduces the attrition rate.

“When an employee holds a share in a company, they are no longer just employees; they are your partners. So they happen to stay longer”, Rahul Singh, Founder-The Beer Cafe

As per the Indian law of ESOP (which is a defined law), you can’t equate the shares within a year. They are locked built-in; the Locking Period is three years. This results in employees saying they have a good salary; they love their job and would stick to the company. Later, when the company gets listed, their shares go up (sic).

Employee benefits offered by McDonalds

4. Give A Longevity Bonus

It is always good to reward the employees who have stayed loyal to your restaurant through the thick and think. For this, you can provide your staff with a longevity bonus once they complete a particular duration at your restaurant. The longevity bonus can be awarded semi-annually or annually. This will help you reduce staff attrition at your restaurant significantly.

5. Reward Your Staff With Their Preferred Section Or Shift 

The restaurant staff incentive doesn’t always have to be monetary. It can be very well, providing them with something that is coveted by them. For instance, mostly all restaurants have certain sections, tables, events, or a busy shift for which the staff competes. If you happen to see some of your staff is performing exceptionally well, you can offer them their desired section or assign them to big parties who are likely to tip well. Since having a preferred location would help a server deliver his work better, similarly, giving the occasional shift choice, as long as it makes sense for your business, will be a coveted prize that your employees will strive for.

Having a happy, well-performing, multi-faceted workforce can only happen if you, as a restaurant owner, treat them well and appreciate their performance at every level. Rewarding them with a periodical restaurant staff incentive is a very effective way to keep your employees always on the mark since they will have something to look forward to.

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Prachi is the Marketing Manager at Restroworks. In her current capacity, she establishes connections with key stakeholders in the F&B industry and serves as the host of The Restaurant Times talk show, "F&B Talks," tailored for the restaurant sector. With hands-on experience in international sales and marketing, Prachi has led initiatives in the LATAM and USA regions, contributing to the platform's global outreach.


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