Ethical challenges happen in every industry, including restaurants. The good news is there are processes to implement to reduce ethics issues and create a better environment for everyone. With the right processes in place, it’s much easier to overcome both obvious and grey area ethical challenges.
- A Clear Ethics Handbook
What should a waiter or cashier do when a customer is being verbally abusive? Are they allowed to say anything back? Can they ask the customer to leave? Many ethics issues aren’t always clear, which makes them more challenging to overcome.
The first thing you should implement is a clear ethics handbook covering situations that tend to happen in restaurants. Use it for employee training and ensure employees review it and answer questions about it at least once a year, preferably more than once. As Michael Simmonds, a seasoned restaurant manager and owner of Simmonds Restaurant Management, stated in an interview, “there are set rules that are in place that must be followed or else there will be consequences.”
Make the rules and desired behaviors clear, so employees understand ethical challenges better.
- Train Employees
Reading about ethical challenges in your restaurant isn’t enough. To truly understand a situation and what to do about it, employees need to see it in action. Use training materials, staged scenarios, staged diners or bring in professional ethics trainers to show what common challenges look like and how to respond accordingly.
Remember, this isn’t just for standard employees. All management, including the owner, should be involved. After all, everyone needs to understand ethics.
- Be Available
One of the top reasons restaurants fail is because the owner is absent. Ethics gradually go out the window unless the owner is present to ensure the right people are in charge and can handle daily challenges. From stealing food to inappropriate flirting with customers, ethical issues are everywhere in the restaurant industry. Without the right people in place, no one is held accountable. Customers end up leaving and your restaurant stays in the red until it closes down.
Instead, be available to check on your restaurant at any time. Ensure your people know they can contact you if they discover an issue. Let you know they can count on you to investigate problems and support them if there’s an issue.
- An Ethics Hotline
Often times, you hear about ethics or whistleblower hotlines for major corporations, but whether it’s a major chain or a small local restaurant, an ethics hotline is helpful. This gives employees a way to report unethical behavior without worrying about retaliation. If they see a manager stealing steaks before leaving, they can report this anonymously and then the owner can investigate and take action.
- Follow Through
This might not seem like a process to implement to overcome ethical challenges in your restaurant, but without following through when something is reported or you notice unethical behavior, it’ll only get worse. Instead, follow through on reports. If consequences are listed in your handbook, carry them out. This gains you respect from ethical employees and eliminates unethical employees.
Implement these five things and you’re well on your way to a more ethical restaurant environment.