Although hospitality chains frequently offer programs that recognize staff for a job well done, many liquor primary establishments do not follow suit, assuming that such programs are costly and time-consuming. In fact, while there may be an initial investment, the return far exceeds any up-front costs.
A rewards program is not only good for the employee; it is good for business, too. Granted, this is a tip-motivated industry in which customers reward staff for good service. But people also need to feel appreciated by their employer and co-workers. Satisfied staff tend to stick around, which reduces turnover, which in turn lessens training costs and avoids lost productivity while new staff get up to speed. Happy staff work harder, customer needs are met, and the results are higher guests checks, repeat business and positive word of mouth.
To successfully launch a rewards program, create one that involves the employees from the outset. Find out what they want. What would reduce stress in their lives? A babysitter, parking pass, a round of golf? How do they want to be appreciated? At a staff function, publicly in writing, or quietly on the side?
Avoid rewarding for sales. You are in the liquor primary business and don’t want to be encouraging your staff to “push alcohol.” Rather, reward or recognize for performance. Be sure that expectations of performance are clear to both management and staff. Levels of performance must be measurable and specific. Three positive comment cards from guests might represent one level of performance, while 12 represents the next, and so forth. Each level could yield a prize: a movie pass for level one, dinner for two at level two, etc.
It is not always necessary to provide a tangible reward. Often, a simple “well done” goes a long way to showing staff that they are noticed and valued. Try posting letters of recognition in a newsletter or on the bulletin board. Not only can this enhance the recipient’s sense of pride, but the other staff can see what is being done well.
One hotel uses “bravograms” to let staff tell each other that they saw them doing something right. This is a great way to encourage a strong team and take advantage of the eyes that are there when you’re not, as well as allow the folks who work behind the scenes to gain the same recognition that front-line employees tend to get.
Partnering with businesses in your community can provide suitable prizes and even expand your client base. Make a deal with a local florist for bouquets in exchange for lunch or appetizer certificates. Perhaps your staff would like gift certificates to a favourite coffee bar or clothing boutique, or passes to the gym or theatre.
A successful rewards program requires enthusiasm on all sides, plus very clear objectives and a strict budget. Involving staff in the development stage is crucial, and an employee committee should work with management to track and evaluate the program and keep it fresh and interesting.