5 Contest Prizes That Will Motivate Your Employees

We’ve all seen them on restaurant walls. The tired old plaque for employees of the month, half the months filled in and dust covering the spaces. While this award may have come with a little reward or recognition from corporate headquarters, it’s the rare employee that gets thrilled over this “honor.”

Skip the old-hat recognition system and try some motivational contest prizes that will get your team revved up and enthusiastic. Instead of the usual rewards, give the winners something they’ll remember, something they’ll enjoy and something they’ll really use. If you want your employees to go all out improving their skills and making sales, give them a reason to win. These motivational prizes will get your team fired up much more than a plaque on the wall.

• The boss works their shift for one day. The winning employee has to come in on her regular shift, but a manager or supervisor has to do the winning employee’s duties all during her shift. The winner gets to stand around and watch the boss do the scut work, while enjoying a relaxing time off from dishes or mopping.

• The winner gets to control the music in the back of the house for one day. In most restaurants that have a music system in the back rooms, there is a constant struggle for radio stations and CD choices. Let the winner of the contest bring in his own stack of CDs, with the proviso that they all be PG rated lyrics in case of minor employees. Whether it’s rap, country or opera, it’s winner’s choice for an entire shift.

• Cater dinner for the winner. Offer a holiday dinner for the winner and her family. Make a contest prize dinner for six or eight people including all side items and dessert for the next holiday that you’re open, or for any special occasion like a birthday or anniversary dinner.

• Winner gets to design company uniform t-shirts. For casual restaurants like burger spots and pizza places, new t-shirt designs can be a yearly occasion. Hold a contest for team members who want to try designing the next uniform shirt. Check out Zazzle, Cafepress or any of the other shirt design sites online to get prices, and print out a collection of shirts with the winning design, including the winner’s autograph at the bottom of the design. If you don’t want to do shirts, go for hats or coffee mugs.

• Allow the winner to set his own schedule for the week. In many restaurants the schedule changes every week because of the many time-off requests from workers. Give the contest winner first priority in scheduling for one week. Whatever he wants to work, up to the usual 40 hours, that’s his schedule for the week.

Get creative with your motivational contests and the prizes, as well. Give your team members something they really want to work for instead of recognition that no one cares about. You’ll see motivated contest entrants and an increase in great attitudes throughout your restaurant.