How Social Platforms Can Boost Your Restaurant's Employee Engagement

By Theodor Porutiu, Contributor

Social media has a cozy spot in our lives. We use it to keep in touch with our friends, read the latest news, and seek validation for what we do. 

If we focus on the new workforce — Millennials and Gen Z — the impact can be seen even clearer. According to Digital Information World’s study, Millennials spend an average of 2.5 hours every day on social media while Gen Z spends about three hours on social. On top, average use across all age groups shows a constant increase since 2012.

Image from DIW

Image from DIW

A smart business owner would ask: “How can I use that?”

There’s the obvious answers such as restaurant social media marketing. But what about using social to improve your restaurant’s staff job satisfaction and engagement?

In fact, employee engagement and social media can mix very well. Facebook posts and Instagram stories carry emotional value. Make good use of them and you can increase employee’s emotional attachment to the workplace.

Guarantee job satisfaction, create a healthy work environment, and use social media to build relationships between coworkers. You can’t magic employee engagement into existence, but work on it and you can expect an increase in employee satisfaction, performance or even loyalty.

How Humans Relate to Social Media

How humans relate to social media

Chatting, commenting and sending funny pictures on a Facebook group may seem trivial. The whole artificial nature of online interaction can make people assume that it’s all fun and games, but social media impacts our lives on a fundamental level.

Because we associate the views, likes and tweets with human beings, they’re more than just pixels. Every sign of appreciation received online becomes a form of human interaction and the platform itself is just another medium where it could take place.

Imagine how employees interact during breaks or in the off-hours. Those interactions influence employee engagement and social media is just another place for them to happen. 

Not only that, people also use social media to take pride in what they do or associate with. Its why humanitarian campaigns gain traction on Facebook and popular opinions are retweeted thousands of times.

Building Communication & Healthy Relationships

Building healthy restaurant staff communication.

Employee engagement is influenced (among other things) by the relationships employees develop with each other. The more you get along with your coworkers, the more invested you’ll be in the work you do. 

Plus, people already connect online. They use the internet to communicate and no matter how hard you’d try to limit access to social media during business hours, employees will find a way to do it.

So take advantage of that! Establish a place where your employees can get in touch and share content about their day to day activities. Facebook groups, Whatsapp chats or Yammer channels will work just fine.

Being able to banter, complain about a tiring guest, or sharing a photo of a weird hat the chef wore that day will have a few definite impacts:

  1. New employees will feel more welcomed.

  2. Venting after a frustrating situation will take place in private, away from prying eyes.

  3. Friendships between employees can develop easier.

  4. There’s an ever-present way for your workers to connect with each other.

 But it goes deeper.

What I described are surface-level changes. Anyone can be good friends with their colleagues and still desperately browse classified boards for a different position.

A meaningful change can only come from all-around healthy work environments, but social media can help in more ways than one.

To Hammer the Point Home, Let Me Tell You a Quick Story…

Turn your restaurant staff into a family.

My home town is not special and if you don’t work in either the hospitality or engineering industry, there’s no place for you there.

However, one thing it can boast with is employee engagement in coffee shops. Many of these have private Facebook groups called “Coffee Shop Name” + “Family” where they share whatever comes to mind.

At first glance, that’s nothing special. Look closer and you’ll notice a fully-fledged community develop. It’s an ever-present way of keeping in touch with your colleagues for more than just planning shifts and asking for days off.

If you facilitate and encourage the sharing of personal thoughts in such a way, emotional investment in the position will follow as a result of stronger connections between individuals.

So how do you go about doing that?

  1. Create a channel to keep in touch. You could ask your current employees what social platform they use most and go for that. As a general rule of thumb, group chats work best because they’re easy to access.

  2. Brand the conversation. You could go for the classic “Tom’s Cafeteria Family” or use an already existent inside joke as inspiration for a title, cover photo and clever rule set.

  3. Put yourself out there. Don’t sacrifice work ethic for having fun, but do start pitching in the conversation. This will encourage a natural flow of the interaction.

Improved Brand Association

Improved restaurant brand association

Relationships are one thing, but they’re not the sole contributor to employee engagement. The value of the work is just as important.

Providing quality hospitality services is not easy. There are so many things that can be improved, whether we’re talking about brewing coffee, folding towel swans, or setting the right ambient in your restaurant.

When you can take pride in your menu art or neat garden lounge, you can also use social media to share that value with the world. Take good pictures, create a following for your official page and your employees can take pride in the work they output.

This will make your restaurant’s team happier to associate with your brand, improving their attachment to the workplace and their engagement as a result.

You can also take it one step further and create posts about your employees. Have them write a short text that describes who they are, praise them for their efforts, and upload it on your social media accounts. This is a great way to show appreciation for their effort. 

Turn your restaurant’s staff into local celebs with your restaurant’s social media accounts

More than anything, this will make waiters, receptionists, and chefs feel like they’re part of something bigger. A business that delivers quality and a team they can truly feel a part of.

Pssst… That won’t work if you don’t have a good social media game. Learn more about that over here.

To Season the Plate

Employee engagement depends on a lot of factors, including a healthy work environment, good leadership, and effort from everyone involved.

Social media won’t guarantee instant engagement, of course. However, facilitate the birth of a community, make your employees proud to associate with your brand, and you will definitely start seeing results.

What do you get?

Better performance and committed employees that are happy to identify themselves with your business. 

For further reading, make sure you also check Solomon Markos’ paper on how to build a strategy for overall engagement. It’s packed with actionable tips.

About the Author
Theodor loves writing about technology, digital marketing and the 21st century lifestyle. When you don't see him reading about the newest social media marketing techniques as well as contributing at Authority Hacker, he's probably dancing to the least expected tune in an inappropriate place.