Easy & Cost Free Employee Engagement Ideas

These tips will help you get things back on track.

According to a survey held by Gallup, only 34 percent of employees in the U.S. is “engaged” in their job. This means that just one-third of total employees feel interested in carrying out their day to day activities while also dedicating their complete focus to their work and improvements in job performance. The other, nearly 70 percent of them don’t feel this level of interest. This paints a pretty bleak picture for employers, who depend on their workforce to develop products, deploy services, serve their customers, and scale their business. That’s why employers need to know just how to improve employee engagement for their business.

A cafe operating in the service industry isn’t exempt from this particular aspect. As a sector where customers need to be satisfied with a coffee shop’s products and services at all times, it is essential that employees who are working to provide said service feel interested in doing their job. A disengaged employee who doesn’t feel happy in carrying out their responsibilities could easily transcend their negative feelings beyond their perception. This attitude could easily flow into their communication with the customer. As a result, it could cost your coffee shop its reputation towards optimally treating its clients. 

Low productivity, questionable quality, and bad attitude are all part of the proverbial package that a disengaged employee brings to the table. All in all, the effects projected by an uninterested employee could bring your cafe a lot of disadvantages, and end up hurting its bottom line as well as the behavior of fellow employees. To avoid this, you should always keep your priorities in check and take practical steps to learn how to improve employee engagement. This way, you could follow them with tangible actions that keep your workforce from tipping to the edge of disengagement.

Thankfully, even when encouraging employee engagement seems difficult, it is not impossible. Through a few tried and tested methods, you can ensure that you are taking targeted steps to help your employees feel more interested in what they do for a living. As a result, you aren’t only going to be able to help your employees feel happier at the workplace, but actually, provide your coffee shop with the support it needs to be successful. 

Given that dealing with employee disengagement could be a complicated process and one that feels like it is not heading anywhere at first, we are here to help you learn how to improve employee engagement for your coffee shop. By implementing the following tips, you can ensure that you are taking practical steps into making your employees interested in their day to day responsibilities. 

Easy & Cost Free Employee Engagement Ideas
A person pouring a beverage in a glass

1. Set transparent goals

One of the best paths to encouraging employee engagement is implementing a transparent job description. Instead of muddling employee responsibilities and making it difficult for them to understand what exactly they are supposed to do, ensure that you are setting out transparent goals for them to achieve each day. 

This transparency helps your employees in performing their tasks more efficiently and also provide them with a clearer frame of mind. As a result, they know what they have to do to fulfill their duties each day. Also, they develop a set process in their mind on how to execute related tasks in the most optimal manner possible. This provides your coffee shop’s employees with the satisfaction of a job done right.

All of this comes together to ensure that your employees are not feeling pressured. They also feel a sense of accomplishment in doing what is required of them. As a result, they naturally develop an increased interest in performing their job at the coffee shop and contribute to your business’ performance and growth in a very substantial manner.

This doesn’t mean that you cannot ask your employees to multitask on a day to day basis or whenever you are short of staff. You can still have a single employee fulfill different roles. Letting an employee multitask in the areas they feel comfortable in is another way to drive engagement since it relates to how satisfied they feel at work. But the key is to learn how to improve employee engagement with multitasking rather than drown them under a ton of responsibilities. As long as you are transparent in what you are asking of your employees, you can easily have them fulfill their duties in multiple roles at the cafe.

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2. Listen to feedback

One way to ensure employee engagement is by listening to what they have to say. Whether the comments are about the way your coffee shop operates or the items it serves, every bit of information that the employee deems as being worth sharing is worth listening to. Even if it doesn’t come close to being implemented.

It’s because providing feedback is perhaps the biggest way that an employee shows their interest in a business. If they are providing you with their suggestion, critique, or compliment, it means that they are passionate enough about working at your cafe. 

If you discourage the feedback or shut it down as soon as it’s provided, then you are getting the comments out of the way. You also diminish the employee’s engagement in your coffee shop. On the other hand, if you reciprocate the enthusiasm by showing genuine curiosity and a willingness to listen, it tells your employees that their interest isn’t misplaced. This is a critical point in learning how to improve employee engagement. It’s as simple as it gets: you have to listen.

As a result, your employees will feel more engaged in performing their assigned duties. They also take an active role in how to improve their position at your cafe. With it, they also pay a great deal of attention on how to improve your coffee shop itself. All of this goes on to prevent any sense of disengagement. It plays a big part in providing you with employees who are interested in being associated with your coffee shop.

Easy & Cost Free Employee Engagement Ideas
People working in a cafe

3. Invest in training

Another way to develop employee interest and engagement is by introducing employee training and development programs for your coffee shop. These initiatives don’t have to be multi-day seminars or big-budget get-togethers. Instead, you could hold training classes and coaching sessions every few days or weeks. This will ensure that your employees have the tools at hand they need to succeed in your line of business.

This is a very crucial aspect while figuring out a plan on how to improve employee engagement. That is why you must make training and development a part of regular business activities for your coffee shop. It may occur to you that holding extensive customer service, communication, or even barista training is redundant for a small business, such as a cafe. However, it plays a big part in improving your employees’ abilities and engagement.

Following this practice brings multiple advantages to the table for your business. For starters, you can cultivate your employees’ skills to a level where you can trust them to represent your cafe to customers effectively. With that, you can get more out of a trained employee with a honed skill set as compared to a worker who doesn’t harbor a defined group of skills. But most of all, it shows the employee that you care enough about them to invest in their personal development. As a result, you can generate their interest, loyalty, and emotional attachment to your cafe, which goes a long way in keeping them engaged in the workplace.

This is especially true for new employees, who need all the assistance and attention they can get to fulfill their duties more profoundly. This is why training is a very common method for encouraging employee engagement. The best part about it is that it doesn’t need a single expert to execute a session. Depending upon what the training is about, it can be conducted by an expert who is connected with the cafe business. Any employee with extensive experience – even yourself – could very easily provide newer members of the team with helpful information.

As long as the training is conducted regularly and shows the employees your level of emotional and financial investment into their development, it would serve its purpose of improving your employees’ skills and driving their engagement towards your cafe.

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4. Encourage teamwork

It is no secret that disengaged employees are often the ones who don’t care about their team or coworkers. Sometimes, their very-evident displays of withdrawal and disassociation show up as a demonstration of rudeness and an overall sense of disregard towards other employees. As a result, this negative attitude spreads to other parts of the business and could end up affecting even more employees with its dark perspective towards everyday operations. 

So how can you improve employee engagement in such a problematic instance? Well, the solution is not as easy as flipping a switch. But at the same time, it is not impossible either. Since disengagement is often deeply rooted in such employees, it cannot be taken out or resolved with just a meeting or two. You need to work in a targeted manner to encourage employee communication throughout different aspects of your cafe.

For instance, you could implement programs where you put together different baristas during a single shift. You could also introduce upsell or cross-sell initiatives where you utilize the communication skills of one employee while supporting them with the culinary skills of another to appeal to customers in a better way. With that, you could also introduce policies for employees with the same job description to swap shifts or switch days off according to their requirements. All of this goes on to show your employees that achieving success is more of a group effort than a solo performance.

Given that building teamwork is a very crucial step towards employee engagement, it is essential that you implement these activities from the get-go rather than introducing them when you see an employee showing active signs of disengagement. When it comes to uninterested employees, prevention is always better than cure. Keeping this in mind, make sure that you vouch for teamwork as soon as you welcome an employee onboard, and this would go a long way in encouraging employee engagement.

Easy & Cost Free Employee Engagement Ideas
Three men working in a cafe

5. Ensure recognition

A trendy way to improve engagement is by implementing recognition programs that single out those employees who go above and beyond for your coffee shop. Before you decide to skip this particular step due to the funds it might require you to shell out, it is crucial to understand that employee’s recognition is not always about the money but about being acknowledged for their efforts.

It’s that simple! When it comes to recognition and how to improve employee engagement through it, all you need to do is to acknowledge the hard work and dedication of those employees. You should recognize the employees who are doing more than putting in the required hours per day. Any employees of your coffee shop who do their job with a certain sense of excellence deserve to have at least a few words said in recognition of their hard work. It might not take much out of your or your manager’s day – but it would mean the world to said employee.

The best part is that it drives more engagement from the employee being recognized. Also, it does wonder in motivating other employees to put their best foot forward. It is a well-known fact that friendly competition in the workplace drives employees to prove their mettle. This could result in an elevated level of interest in job performance and encourage employees to pay more attention to how they are carrying out their day to day tasks.

These benefits are the reason why programs such as “Employee of the Month” are so ubiquitous in the business sector, especially in the service industry. They cost almost nothing but a picture frame on your wall. But that one wall means the world to the employee who put in the effort to earn their place on it. Keeping this in mind, ensure to reward employees with the recognition they deserve for elevated job performance.

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6. Welcome out-of-the-box solutions

While running a business in the service industry, there would be times where you would run into unforeseen hurdles. Suddenly running out of a particular brand of coffee due to increased demand, noticing an abrupt malfunction in a prime espresso machine, or seeing employee absence due to an outbreak of the flu are scenarios that your cafe could face any day of the week. But since you cannot just close shop and turn away the customers who are walking in to get their daily cup of joe, that’s when you think of out of the box solutions. 

Take the issues mentioned above, for instance. To fix the shortage of a specific brand of coffee, you could offer existing beverages at a discounted price. To resolve the coffee machine debacle, you could brew espresso through a French Press. Lastly, to address the employee absenteeism, you could get available employees to start multitasking. But none of these solutions would come to the forefront of your work culture doesn’t promote out of the box thinking. If your employees don’t have the confidence to share their opinions, however unorthodox they might be, then making your way out of such situations could be difficult to the point of being impossible.

It all simply relates to the notion of engagement. Engaged employees tend to voice their opinions to their employers without any hesitation. With a drive to contribute to the business any way they can, these employees could become a valuable asset to your coffee shop during times of turmoil. But to “unlock” this behavior, you need to learn how to improve employee engagement by showing an active interest in out of the box thinking. 

Similar to instilling the idea of teamwork, this is not done at a moment’s notice. Instead, you need to provide your employees with the confidence to share their opinions without being mocked, turned down, or ridiculed for their unconventional approach. To achieve this feat, express your openness to ideas during meetings, training sessions, and your day to day communication with your employees. 

Doing so would give your employees the assertiveness to voice their opinions even when they are just bouncing ideas off of their teammates. As a result, this simple practice of encouraging employee engagement could let you would be able to benefit from a higher level of employee interest.

Easy & Cost Free Employee Engagement Ideas
A barista preparing coffee

7. Be the example you want to see

One of the most important things to note while learning how to improve employee engagement through different approaches is by adopting participation in your day to day behavior. 

This is where your accountability to engagement comes into your question. If you exhibit an inherent approach of interest and enthusiasm towards your cafe, then your employees would be able to follow your lead and feel confident in sharing ideas that improve the cafe’s operations under challenging situations. But if you only come out as a leader when something terrible happens, and you need urgent solutions, then it isn’t going to benefit you much. 

It is important to understand that disengaged employees are not just created overnight. While it is often a result of the employee’s personality, a disinterested employee is sometimes a result of the management’s behavior as well. Through consistent displays of nonchalance, it is the leaders or management that puts other employees on the path of disengagement.

That is why, whether it’s you leading the cafe and taking part in its day to day operations as a business owner or a manager whom you have appointed to fulfill that responsibility, it is essential that those who are communicating with employees in a leadership role are leading by example than mere words.

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8. Don’t be afraid to call out the management

It is very prudent to remember that any efforts to show engagement as leadership wouldn’t do any good if you, as a business owner, are doing everything you can to encourage employee engagement, but your assigned manager isn’t putting in the work to do the same. 

As explained above, if you have line managers in place, then it is their job to demonstrate these qualities instead of your sole responsibility to do so. As a simple rule of thumb, whoever is communicating with the cafe’s employees on a daily basis has to exhibit the same standards of engagement that are being asked of the employees. 

Those filling the shoes of the line manager needs to ensure that they are always present, open to suggestions, welcoming of negative feedback, and enthusiastic about offering recognition. With it, having a practice of working well with employees and showing teamwork at the highest level of the business also shows what you expect out of your staff.

Being mindful of this, you and your management should practice regular displays of the qualities that you want to see in your employees, and you would end up with a highly engaged workforce as a result. If you only demand engagement while giving nothing in return, then no matter if you hire the most expensive trainers or reward employees with golden words of recognition, it is not going to have the desired effect of creating optimal levels of employee interest. This is very important to understand while learning how to improve employee engagement.

Easy & Cost Free Employee Engagement Ideas
People working in a cafe

As long as you follow these practices with a genuine level of interest in your cafe’s day to day operations, then it is going to cultivate a culture of engagement and bring you the workforce that you always dreamed of. 

Time to put these tips to use! Let us know, in the comments section below, how these 8 simple, yet vital, engagement ideas have impacted your business.

For more management, branding, and small business tips, check out additional Brand My Cafe articles like 4 Packaging Items You Should Brand if You Own a Cafe, Best POS Systems for Smalle Cafes, or 6 Pro Tips to Choose the Right Lighting for Your Cafe!

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