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    HR Resources | 4 min read

    Empathy: The Key to Keep Your Restaurant Running Smoothly

    Right now, there is a labor shortage. Finding and hiring quality hourly workers is hard. And the current QSR workforce has the upper hand. Not only are they asking for better wages and better work environments, but they are also asking for schedules that align with their view of a work-life balance.

    Now, your first reaction might be to say that you have a business to run and that employees can either accept the position offered and work the schedule you give them or that you will just hire someone else. But we all know that isn’t going to work in today’s job market. That attitude and reaction, more likely than not, will cause your employees to call off or quit and you’ll be left to fill the open shifts yourself.

    One of the most effective ways to lead through this is with empathy. It goes a long way with attracting and retaining employees so your business can run smoothly and predictably.

    What is Empathy?

    Similar to sympathy and compassion, empathy differs in the fact that it is someone’s ability to understand where another person is coming from. You can put yourself in their shoes and see things from their point of view. With empathy in the workplace, you have a better perception of what the modern workforce needs and wants.

    How Business Benefits from Empathy

    It might seem unlikely, but empathy helps you make educated decisions when it comes to interaction with your team. 

    Improves Recruitment Efforts

    With competition for top talent as tough as it is, using methods that attract the right workers is important. The recruitment strategies of the past no longer work. So, it’s important to be an employer of choice and have positive employer branding. People talk to each other about their jobs and can look up employer ratings online. If current workers say that your restaurant is a place that cares and is willing to work around schedules, then more people are likely to apply to work for you.

    Improves Sales

    When employees feel heard and understood, morale is high and they’re more engaged. Happy employees strive to help the business reach its goals. They’re willing to work harder and stay with the business. They will smile and be more eager to help serve the customer. They will keep workstations cleaner. And they will be more willing to work around the needs of the restaurant. All this will attract more patrons and improve the bottom line.

    How to be Empathetic in the Workplace

    It’s one thing to say that you practice empathy in the workplace, but it’s quite another to actually be empathetic. It takes work to learn the skill. The first step is to acknowledge that you want to be more empathetic. The second is to take action. Great general managers and business owners all excel in this skill.

    Engage with Others

    It’s not enough to walk into work in the morning and distribute duties. Interact with your employees. Get to know your employees' families and learn the names of their children or spouse. Ask about their hobbies and how they got started in them. Check-in with their ambitions.

    Also, work alongside them when you can. Nothing says you respect them and understand what their day-to-day is like then experiencing it yourself. When your employees share that a certain task is difficult or a shift needs more people on it, you’ have better context and are better suited to make improvements.

    Actively Listen

    Listening is one skill that a lot of people don’t realize is important. When you actively listen, you generally hear what is being said. Many people just listen so they are prepared to react and get their message across. A real listener is able to process the information they receive and take proper action. 

    Pay Attention to Body Language

    Your body language can say a lot about how you’re feeling. Crossing your arms over your chest or rolling your eyes is a clear indicator that you don’t care, which may lead your employee to feel resentment. Instead, stand relaxed and make eye contact.

    Identify Unconscious Bias

    Never assume you know what others feel, need, or motivate their decisions. Especially if that assumption comes from a bias that may have been influenced by bad information or stereotyping.

    If you have never experienced what others have, ask yourself what you would do. How would you feel? If you are unable to answer the questions yourself, or unable to find answers in your research, ask others. If someone asks for a day off, never make the assumption that they are lazy or just don’t want to work.

    Be Nice

    One of the easiest ways to be empathetic is to show kindness. You should always avoid raising your voice or name-calling if there is a conflict or a need to discipline. Always remember how it feels to be on the receiving end of ill behavior. 

    Final Thought

    Leading with empathy does not mean that you’re creating an opportunity for your employees to walk all over you. It means you’re creating a shared space of understanding and trust. This is the space that will give your team confidence in asking your for time off when they really need it. This is the space where your team will step up to cover shifts because they know the business really needs it. This is the space where difficult conversations can take place and be constructive and productive.

    With empathy, you will be a better leader and manager, and will earn your team’s respect. So when you need someone to cover a shift, assist a customer, or hire a new employee, fewer obstacles will be in your way.


    Interested in more effective and easy ways to attract and retain staff? Contact one of our Hiring Specialists today.

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