One standout benefit of working in a restaurant is the close proximity to excellent food. Some of the best meals I’ve ever had came from my time working at a restaurant and enjoying staff meals: pre-service plates loaded with delicious food courtesy of the chef. We dissect three variations of the staff meal and explore how you can choose the right one for your team.
The concept of a staff meal is pretty self-explanatory—a free meal given to the entire staff, usually before service. While it is considered a perk, it can have a definitive impact on your establishment’s turnover rates and staff effectiveness.
That doesn’t mean that all staff meals are created equal. There are stories all over the foodservice industry of these meals consisting of food that’s going bad or day-old foods that really shouldn’t be served at all.
Even if you are serving leftovers, this meal shouldn’t be an afterthought. This is an internal event for your team and should be treated with the importance it deserves.
The immediate benefit of the staff meal is the team building effect it has. As you probably know, nothing brings people together like food. It invites conversation and creates connections. Everyone in food service has a work persona, but when you’re in a situation outside of work, it’s simply easier to break down the barrier. Studies show that a team that works together, shares knowledge, and has a cohesive team culture performs more effectively. When they know and can rely on each other, your establishment functions better.
There are several ways to go about choosing a staff meal, each with their own benefits and drawbacks:
A staff meal isn’t required of an employer. It isn’t in any manual of rules or regulations. But going the extra mile for your team counts for a lot. It lets your staff get to know one another better, to gel into a more cohesive unit, and have some fun. It lets you train your staff in a practical manner that’s fun and different, test new dishes, or showcase a staff member’s talent in a low-risk environment. If nothing else, it gets rid of that food in the fridge that’s about to go bad, doesn’t it?
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