guestXM – by Black Box Intelligence

5 Reasons Your General Managers Are Not Engaged & How to Change It

General manager engagement is the backbone of a brand's success. Find out why your managers are not engaged and what you can do to fix it.

Unlocking Employee Engagement: A Key to Reducing Turnover Costs in Restaurants

Actively disengaged employees are almost twice as likely as engaged employees to look for new roles, according to Gallup’s State of the American Workplace report. This brings costly implications for operators and the overall health of the economy. Black Box Intelligence (formerly TDn2K) research indicates the average cost of turnover for a restaurant general manager is $14,036. Not only is this an expensive problem, but the negative effects of disengaged managers trickle down to service levels, guest sentiment, and ultimately, sales and traffic.

Revitalizing General Manager Engagement: 5 Strategies for a Thriving Team

1. Work-life Balance

Today’s American worker is more inclined to seek opportunities that allow for more flexibility, or benefits that support families and development. Working remotely might not be a plausible option for restaurant general managers most of the time, but there might be some aspects of the job that can be done at home or out of the restaurant. Operators can look for other ways to weave flexibility into their work culture to contribute to manager’s work-life balance, such as paid volunteer or wellness time.

Operators have a lot of opportunities to make the workplace more enjoyable for managers as well. General managers often spend a lot of time on staffing and scheduling or dealing with issues that could easily be helped with better tools and adequate manager support. Two managers who each work between 40 and 50 hours per week are much more likely to be engaged compared to one manager who works 80 hours.

2. Health and Wellness

In addition to administrative demands such as meeting payroll and taking inventory, general managers often put in 12-hour shifts or longer on the front lines of your restaurant. They may be doing anything from running food to dealing with customer complaints or even lending a hand in the kitchen. This work places a lot of physical and mental stress on managers.

There will always be busier weeks than others when managers are expected to keep up a particularly quick pace, but operators should encourage managers to take adequate time for rest and personal health and wellness. Providing support to managers with gym memberships or extra time off dedicated to wellness, for example, is a way to engage managers and allow them time for self-care.

3. Lack of Proper Training Up-front and Ongoing

Black Box Intelligence (formerly TDn2K) research has shown that 35 percent of managers terminate within the first year of employment. This overwhelming turnover often leads to quick hires out of desperation and operators may skimp on proper training. When a general manager is thrown into the fire without the proper tools and instruction, it can become a lot easier to disengage from the responsibilities.

Operators have an opportunity to refine their training program to ensure the success of their general managers, which will translate to the overall success of their brands. Additionally, training doesn’t stop during the onboarding process. General managers should be provided ongoing training and continued mentoring or coaching. Investing in the long-term success of your general manager will lead to more growth in your brand overall.

4. Compensation and Bonus

If managers are already feeling overworked and they are not incentivized for their efforts across the board, resentment can build and lead to disengagement. When a manager’s bonus is based on only food and labor costs, other areas such as guest and employee satisfaction could suffer, ultimately leading to a negative effect on sales.

Operators should consider other ways to compensate general managers in ways that align with all the effort they are putting in. Food and labor costs might be running a little high, but what about online reviews and guest satisfaction? A bonus structure that allows rewards for positive online mentions could make a huge difference in the overall engagement of your general manager.

5. Career Development

It is easy for managers to get caught up in the day-to-day requirements of running a restaurant and for personal and professional development goals to go unmet. Engagement can suffer when anyone feels stagnant and general managers are no exception. Operators can encourage and even require career development as part of the job expectations.

A general manager who is provided opportunities to develop skills will not only further their career path but will also directly impact the success of your restaurant. TDn2k research has shown that brands focused on nurturing the professional development of general managers have management turnover rates that are almost 20 percentage points lower than those that don’t.

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