Working in a café can be quite stressful – long hours, demanding customers and the constant pressure to be friendly and cheerful. All this can take its toll on your staff.

So what can you do to make sure your employees stay, and stay happy? Especially when it costs far less to keep a good employee than to find and hire a new one.

While you may not be able to give every deserving employee a raise or bonus, here are a few ideas on how you can reward your staff in meaningful ways:

Set up a system to show appreciation

Even as a small café, you can create a system that rewards staff for loyalty and hard work. Making them feel valued means they will stay around longer and go the extra mile to impress your customers. This reduces your recruitment costs and drives a more profitable business.

Say it with little things

Create cards and reward your staff with one when you spot them doing great work or going above and beyond for a customer. Have a few different rewards, such as:

1. Free lunch for a family member or friend

2. Gift cards or discount coupons when they purchase products from your café 

3. Movie tickets

Connect with other local businesses and swap goods or services of the same value. For example, you might be able to offer free coffee in exchange for staff freebies at the local newsagent or ice cream parlour.  

Get staff involved

One way to promote goodwill between staff as well as towards you is to give them the opportunity to appreciate the good work of their colleagues.  

Setup a ‘nomination’ box that lets staff name their colleagues and tell them why they’re appreciated. The staff member with the most nominations at the end of each month can receive a small cash reward, movie tickets or a voucher for a nearby retail store.

Finish big

A lot of businesses create an annual reward scheme that applies to staff who stick around. You can enhance this through quarterly reviews that go towards an annual ‘score’ and a bonus based on that.  

You could scale the rewards to reflect on the whole team’s achievements throughout the year or calculate a bonus that is a percentage of your café’s entire annual profit.  

Another great idea is to have an end-of-year Christmas bash. Everyone loves a party, especially when it’s on the house! So why not treat your staff to a grand get-together where they can let their hair down and mingle, while someone waits on them for a change.

When coming up with staff rewards, don’t be afraid to involve your team. Let them propose what they think would work and suggest what they would like to be rewarded with. Make it very clear what practices you’re on the lookout for, so your staff know how to work towards being rewarded.

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