Disengaged employees are harmful to your restaurant and your brand. Here are four excuses operators make when it comes to disengaged employees, and why they just don’t add up.

1. Sounds interesting, but we’ve got other priorities.

We’re all busy. The service industry takes no prisoners when it comes to scheduling demands. And, as we’ve all known since we were children, time is money.

If you want proof of that, look no further than Gallup’s report on the state of employee engagement in America: it says that disengagement costs businesses a total of $500 billion annually, or nearly $1.4 billion on a daily basis.

For those keeping track, that’s enough money to open 1,867 new McDonald’s franchise locations—every day.

Each business that is failing to put engagement strategy where it belongs—at the top of their priority list—is leaving cash on the table, and a substantial amount of it. Some projections put the figure as high as $2,400 per employee, per year.

Sound impossible? A full-time waitress works at least 260 days per year. Each day, a disengaged server misses out on numerous opportunities to upsell products, and plenty more opportunities to impress guests and make them more likely to return. Even a modest assumption of $10 per day lost—a dessert, or a single glass of wine—would put annual waste at $2,600, above the projection.

So, yes, by all means, take six months to mull over whether or not employee engagement is something to be seriously considered. Just be prepared to explain to the boss why the company was among the last to decide they no longer wanted to be a part of the statistic, and why $2,500 per employee, per annum was allowed to evaporate without any sort of effort to salvage it.

The numbers speak for themselves. No issue facing the frontline is as financially crippling—and as easily rectified—as employee disengagement. There’s no excuse to put an initiative on hold, and there should be no higher priority.

2. We don’t have extra budget.

No one has extra budget lying around waiting to be poured into a cool new initiative. And, often, that’s the category engagement programs are mistakenly sorted into—nifty, but not necessary.

We’ve just seen how gravely expensive that misperception can prove.

The modest cost of a top-notch employee engagement platform is a drop in the bucket compared to the financial strain disengagement places on a corporation. Competitive engagement platforms are priced per location, per month, at a rate less than what a single waitress typically earns across one shift. Yet between sales competitions, targeted coaching and satisfaction-driven customer loyalty, engagement apps can be directly linked to thousands of dollars per month in revenue. Using the same model from earlier, let’s say an engaged employee goes the extra mile and sells 3 extra desserts during a shift—easy for a waiter on top of his game. Assuming around $7 per dessert and scaling across a year of performance, that’s over $5,000 in extra revenue from only one server.

Adopting an engagement platform is choosing to make more—it’s that simple.

3. We already have an LMS that does engagement.

An LMS is a great tool for getting employees involved—for a week or two. Once a worker is onboarded, LMS access rates plummet. That’s no secret to anyone in the industry who actually interacts with frontline workers on a day-to-day basis.

To keep workers perpetually engaged, the entire engagement cycle needs to be filled out, not just the first phase. LMSs train employees; employees work; performance data is gathered; that data is assessed and responded to.

The last phase is where engagement tech comes in, because productive use of performance data is scarce in restaurant environments. In order to sustain engagement, platforms must sustain interest, and that means adding a suite of features that go well beyond training and leverage data: gamification, manager recognition, etc.

That’s why engagement platforms can sustain 80 percent engagement rates even six months after implementation.

4. I don’t have decision-making power, so there’s no point in learning about it.

“That decision is above my paygrade.”

Wrong, wrong, wrong. Perhaps the ultimate veto is—but any corporate employee, be they in operations, human resources, or even training, has a vested interest in ensuring that engagement platforms are considered by the top dogs.

The first reason is obvious: engagement strategies are proven to make business more successful, and employees have an inherent interest in making sure their company does well.

The second is less apparent: the individual responsible for implementing a winning engagement strategy will inevitably achieve internal rockstar status. Engagement is a home run. Don’t pass up an opportunity to be your team’s A-Rod. Be proactive and seek out opportunities to build engagement into your company’s strategy.

Ashish Gambhir is an entrepreneur and 15-year veteran of the restaurant and hospitality industry. He is the co-founder of MomentSnap, a mobile-first frontline employee engagement platform optimized for quick service and fast casual environments. He previously co-founded NewBrand Analytics, a social media listening tool that was acquired by Sprinklr last summer.
Outside Insights, Story