5 Tips to Reduce Tension Among Your Restaurant Employees

For the rest of the world, a Saturday or a Sunday afternoon is all about relaxing with friends and family and sleeping in for the first time in days. For that restaurant waiter and chefs? It’s their worst nightmare waiting to unravel in the form of complaining guests, off-menu requests, noisy kids running around the place, arguing with the vendor for a late food shipment, and managers looking over their shoulders. 

There’s no such thing as a regular weekend for a restaurant employee, as working in the food industry is every bit as stressful as any other job -- and then some. So, for you as the leader of the team, you need to come up with ways to help your employees cope.

This is not just good practice for the sake of greater productivity and building up their patience for those demanding customers, but it’s also vital for your employees’ long-term wellbeing. Since they spend most of the day in a rush to deliver all of their guests’ orders, with little to no time to de-stress, it’s up to you to deliver the most effective solutions so that your business and your employees are taken care of.

Here are a few tips to help your teams unwind when they need it most!

Organize Every Process in Your Restaurant

Implement restaurant policies to lower staff stress

Does your crew frantically run around when there’s a new delivery of fruits and vegetables at the door while the restaurant is filled to the brim with hungry customers? Do you regularly need to handle misplaced reservations or overbooking? How about stocking your bathrooms to make sure the hygiene of your restaurant is stellar? There are so many different aspects of running a restaurant that it’s no wonder at least one process falls through the cracks and gets neglected. 

As a result, your employees often end up trying to calm agitated guests whose reservation wasn’t taken down properly and more people need to leave their post to bring in the goods from your vendor, not to mention risking a health inspection before you restock your soap in the bathrooms. To prevent such disasters waiting to happen, you need to have policies and step-by-step guidelines for each and every process in your business.

Everyone needs to know how they should handle potential situations. You can use digital tools to take reservations and always have someone answer the phones, and set a rigorous schedule as to when to handle deliveries, stocking, menu changes, etc. 

Provide Restaurant Employees with De-stressing Tools

Restaurant destress tools

Sometimes you need a more hands-on approach when your employees are in dire need to de-stress. Whether they’ve just handled a messy exchange with a guest, or you’ve had to send back an entire order of not-so-fresh vegetables to your vendor, you can provide your employees with simple tools to manage stress in that very moment.

For instance, personalized printed stressballs are a wonderfully simple solution to help your teams unwind when things get a little too heated. You have some extra room in the back, behind the kitchen? Add a small lounge area for your staff to get away from the noise during their breaks and chill out for a few minutes. Finally, if they spend hours on their feet and they get sore necks regularly, invest in a portable massager and they’ll love you for the effort. 

Always Make Sure You Have Staff on Deck

Understaffed restaurant shifts add stress

While there are always different ways to bring more tension to your restaurant, one of the main sources of stress involves a lack of employees available. Those peak hours at your restaurant are enough to cause stress on their own, imagine how not having enough people around can amplify that negative atmosphere?

Prevention is the best approach in this situation as well, so make sure that you always keep enough people available. In case some of your staff need a day off or they catch the flu, you should always have a few people on speed dial to come over as soon as they can and cover those crowded shifts. Being understaffed will only enhance the feeling of tension and pressure at the restaurant, which will lead to higher staff turnover and a poor guest experience. 

Provide Help When Staff are Too Stressed

Restaurant staff mental heath

No matter how hard you try to prevent unpleasant situations and stressful scenarios, some things are entirely out of your control. Your employees are often stressed for different reasons, so they “bring” that tension to the office. Whether it’s because they don’t have the time to bond with their family, or they are going through a difficult time in their personal life – that stress can only get worse in a crowded, tense restaurant.

To make sure your employees can manage their stress effectively, make sure they know that they can take a mental health day and take care of themselves. Also, provide access to psychological counseling if they feel they could use some advice on how to manage stress better. 

Make Sure Staff Take Enough Breaks 

Restaurant staff breaks

Finally, it’s not always about what you and your teams can do, but what you don’t do that makes all the difference. For the sake of balance, health, and greater productivity, having your staff take regular breaks is a must. And that doesn’t mean five-minute breaks just to get a sip of their afternoon coffee. It refers to an actual, 30-minute break to have lunch, chat, and escape the chaos of the restaurant. Since not everyone can take breaks at the same time, make sure your schedule allows ample time for everyone to rest and for them to have organized breaks every day.

Running a restaurant is a very complex, difficult process. Keeping your employees stress-free and healthy is one of the prerequisites for success in the industry, so use these tips to your advantage and help them enjoy building your restaurant’s reputation along your side. 

About the Author

Jacob Wilson is a business consultant, and an organizational psychologist, based in Brisbane. Passionate about marketing, social networks, and business in general. In his spare time, he writes a lot about new business strategies and digital marketing for Bizzmarkblog.com.