Employee Meals: What System Works Best for You?

Dec 20 2016

Restaurant Management Server Performance Employee Meals

Employees in the restaurant industry do not typically have the normal nine to five work day. Instead, they typically work through the peak breakfast, lunch and dinner hours. Not only that – restaurant employees are constantly on their feet, moving and working up an appetite during those shifts. It is not mandatory that you provide your employees meals during their shifts, but it is very generous if you do, and fosters good will between you and your employees. If you do already offer employee meals – or are thinking about doing so –  did you know there are multiple ways you can provide shift meals?

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Employee Discounts

The most common way to feed employees is to offer employee meal discounts. This has two benefits – your employees feel as if they are still being rewarded, and you are still covering the cost of the food. You can offer twenty-five or fifty percent off a meal per shift. You can also offer a lower percentage off of employee meals when they come in to dine on a day off. This is great way to get your employees to taste your full menu, so they can describe the dishes in detail to your guests.

Shift Meals

Another common practice in providing employee meals is to offer one free meal per shift. Now this may seem costly – and it can be – but to keep costs down, you can consider creating a specialized employee menu. This will typically disallow employees from ordering the more expensive options such as steak and fish. You can also allocate a certain amount of money per shift meal – the employee may have to pay out of pocket for anything over the amount of $15, for example. If this generous style works for you and your budget, shift meals are a great way to keep employee morale up.

Family Style

A less common approach in providing employee meals is to do it “family style”. This is seen more often in Italy and other parts of Europe, and actually holds some great benefits. At the end of the evening – or even a lunch or breakfast shift – you can have your chefs cook up a family-style meal for your employees. You can do this in a banquet layout. with employees grabbing a plate and serving themselves. This allows you to not only nourish your employees after a long shift, but to save money and promote team building. You can save money by selecting less expensive dishes such as pastas, salads and sandwiches. During this family style meal, your employees can get to know each other better, which will ultimately help the teamwork during their shifts. This style can also allow for your chefs to experiment and showcase their cooking talents. Perhaps they will even cook up something that you end up adding to your menu.

When it comes to employee meals, one sure thing is that no matter what style you choose to provide for your staff, there are benefits for both them and you. Keeping your employees happy, knowledgeable and working hard is worth the cost, don’t you think?  

Amanda Wilkening

Amanda Wilkening

Amanda has over 10 years of restaurant experience ranging from Serving, FOH Training to bookkeeping. More recently, Amanda was a member of the client services department at Ctuit where she trained new clients on RADAR and assisted restaurant management and executives in their day to day reporting and operational questions.