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foodiemaniac

How do you track employee work hours and how do you motivate them to work well?

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Restaurant owners and managers, how do you currently track your employee work hours? I have a friend who owns a local french restaurant in Northern California and he wants me to help improve his staff operations. The biggest concerns are that his employees lie about how long they work, when they come in, when they leave work etc. They are also not as well motivated during work or maybe they feel underappreciated at work. I was wondering if you had any ideas to share ways to motivate employees to work and record hours properly? Do you have similar issues at your business? Any ideas would be highly appreciated!

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Make 'em punch a clock. That's not foolproof if they're really determined to cheat the system but it goes a long way towards reducing false hours. If the entire staff is trying to cheat the clock and showing a great lack of motivation, dig into the root of the problem by talking to them and finding out what the problem is and what would help solve it. And don't be afraid to look at management. A great deal of time, lack of motivation or caring among a staff trickles down from poor management skills. If the people at the top of the ladder don't give a fork, why should the people they're supposed to be leading? And don't be afraid to admit, if it proves to be the case, that you just have a rotten barrel of apples that need to be replaced. Not the easiest thing to do but sometimes it has to be done.

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Motivation is a slippery thing. 

 

The last time I worked for someone else, the owners of the restaurant were brilliant, highly focused people with a clear vision, but they were amateurs. The restaurant was successful and the food was good, but turnover was a serious issue for them. I found out why very quickly when I went to work for them.

 

There were two owners, a man who mostly handled the business side and a woman who was the hands-on manager. The female partner (they were not a couple) was the driver, the male partner was the investor and business brain. The female partner was in the kitchen at least once or twice every day, going "Full Ramsay" on one or another of the cooks for some minor infraction or other. The issue was that she expected every single employee - at $1.00 over minimum wage - to treat the place as if they were owners. At the slightest misstep, she'd be all over them in a fury. I was aghast to see her light into a poor kid who'd only been on the job three days, fuming afterwards (within his hearing) that he was "another bad hire who wouldn't last two weeks." Understandably, he didn't bother coming back after his shift. In a small city with a limited number of restaurants this kind of reputation gets around quickly, and has a real impact on your ability to keep a kitchen properly staffed.

 

This is an extreme example, but many restaurateurs show similarly counterproductive attitudes and behaviors when seen through outside eyes. In that restaurant, I explained (very) carefully to the owner that buy-in has to be earned, not demanded, and that she was sapping all the spirit out of the kitchen through her interactions with the cooks. I "suggested" that she filter any feedback through me, rather than approaching line cooks directly, which helped greatly. As I got to know them I gave them opportunities to stretch their wings a bit, canvassing them for suggestions about improving the kitchen's organization and work flow, so we could get food out more efficiently. I also challenged them to create new dishes out of our existing ingredients and prep, putting them on as daily specials with that particular cook's name on them (ie, "Brad's Killer Vegan Panini"). Even the malcontent cook who'd been pointed out to me as "the next lazy b*stard I'm going to fire" when I came onboard was starting to come around and enjoy his shifts, laughing and joking with the others instead of scowling sullenly at the flattop and tuning everyone else out.

 

Then she fired me for not driving an hour in to work through a raging blizzard on a day when the whole city was shut down anyway. :P

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A time clock will definitely pay for itself within a few weeks. Even in well-managed places, there are dishonest employees who want to take advantage. That said, so many people get into the biz without any training or experience. HERE's an article you may enjoy.

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Oh, and the issue with hours cuts both ways. The regulatory environment is changing all the time, and if you can't demonstrate that you're in compliance with local labor standards there's potential for a malicious employee or former employee to create trouble by reporting you. 

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Have a printed time sheet for each employee and make it the rule that a supervisor must sign them off after they fill out the hours of their shift.  No sign off, no pay.

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in Korea almost everyone (no matter whether it's a cafe, restaurant or shop) using a fingerprint identification. So I basically have a system where can see when all my staff came and left. And I also have a bonus-system once a month for those who's never late (like free McDonald, Starbucks or CGV coupons) and every month we are choosing the best worker (with money compensation, not large though, but at least my guys are trying to do their best). The personnel works perfectly, almost no one late, and each of them already had a free coupon. My customers are always satisfied with the service. 


Edited by WooshoMoosho (log)

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