Trends in the Quick Serve Industry – How to improve Staff Loyalty and Productivity

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As anyone running a restaurant or takeaway knows, getting and keeping good staff makes all the difference – not only to running the business but to managing the stress which falls on you as owner-manager. It’s neither possible nor desirable to do everything yourself. Time off to recharge is essential at a personal and business level. Those who can count on family are lucky. Otherwise – if you get staff who are friendly, reliable, hard-working and trustworthy, how do you make sure they stay? And how do you motivate them to be even more productive?

Every issue, we will look at trends in the fast food industry which we think it might be helpful for you to learn about. As ever, multinationals lead the way in employee motivation and retention, as they do in so many facets of the industry since they have the resources to throw at challenges. What tips can we learn from multinationals to improve staff loyalty and productivity?

More and more, we are seeing big companies introducing employee benefits packages for their staff. Independent businesses will not have the scale for introducing large schemes but there are lessons to be learned from the benefits that multi-nationals are giving to their staff.

Starbucks are leading this trend and have rewards for their staff – sorry – partners, which include sick leave and stock options. This benefits package is called ‘your special blend’ and includes bonuses, discounted stock purchase options and health coverage for staff and their dependents. In the US, ‘partners’ can also avail of help with their tuition fees for online degrees from Arizona State University. They also get free food and coffee at work, and one pound of coffee a week to take home.


The US Mexican food chain, Taco Bell, have rolled out an Education Guild programme for all their 210,000 employees after a successful trial last year where the company saw a 30 percent increase in employee retention for those enrolled in the scheme. The employees who join up will have access to personalized college advisors and tuition discounts for thousands of classes, certificates, and degrees, the moment that they start working with Taco Bell. The programme is designed to live up to the company philosophy of ‘Start with us, Stay with us’.

“When we surveyed our employees, education support was one of the top three things they asked for,” said Frank Tucker, global chief people officer at Taco Bell, in a statement. “The barriers to achieving their education goals were time, money, and support. Our partnership with Guild delivers on all of these needs for our employees through access to online classes, financial aid guidance, tuition assistance, and a personal counselor to support each student in real time.”

All employees can also get college credit for on-the-job restaurant training, which could save an employee an additional $5,000 in tuition fees. Taco Bell’s same-store sales were up 4 percent for 2017 showing that happy staff leads to better business.

Independent business in Ireland aren’t in a position to invest those sums in staff but bear in mind that higher education in Ireland is much less expensive than in the US and in particular, there is a wealth of evening and part-time courses available round the country, for as little as a few hundred euro a year. Get your staff to look into business, accountancy, computing, hotel management – whatever takes their interest – and see about subsidising part of the costs. The employee will learn new, useful skills in business – and will certainly be grateful.


In Ireland drinks giant Diageo tops the list for best places to work. All employees are part of a profit-sharing and bonus scheme, and also get a free product allowance and free parking. Employees can avail of a three-course lunch every day for free and make use of the free on-site gym, swimming pool and medical centre.

The company also offers its employees flexible working hours – this can allow parents to work, collect kids from school and then return for a second work session. This benefit is one that employees for independent food businesses already avail of.

Diageo will also match any money their staff raise for charity. This generous offer can also be introduced in a small business – helping good causes and getting good publicity for supporting the community. Maybe look into various fund-raising options with staff – if it’s a fun activity, like a run or quiz, this is also good for team-building.


The big tech companies are well known for the perks they give their workers. Microsoft gives their employees a free tablet along with flexible working hours. They, like Taco Bell, will help with education and will pay for two-thirds the cost of their course, be it a diploma, certificate or even a master. There is also an on-site nail bar and dry cleaners.

Big companies, like Microsoft and Intel, give bonuses related to the yearly success of the company. An independent restaurant business can also do this, albeit on a much smaller level. December is often a good month for fast food businesses. Can you channel some of the profits into a Christmas bonus? It’s good motivation when staff knows hard work is being recognised by the boss.

Google famously has a nap pod where workers can recharge with a quick sleep; they also provide a games room and unlimited snacks – potentially dangerous if replicated in a fish and chip shop. They also employ a full-time masseuse.

Giving additional benefits to your employees outside of their wages can be a very important tool in getting and retaining good workers and if used smartly will benefit the business just as much as the worker.

Can you use Kepak Food Alliance Treats to reward staff? Perhaps with a trip to a spa, or golf outing? Only occasionally though – you also need to remember to reward the most hardworking person of all – yourself!

Browse Food Alliance Rewards


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