by Joe Fiscus

Managers continually have a variety of tasks and hats to juggle. Worrying about things like controlling your labor cost, creating employee schedules that work, and implementing the convoluted Affordable Care Act, can push other things like creating an environment that cultivates employee productivity to the back burner.

For about 5 years, I worked as a cook at various establishments in the hospitality industry. I’ve cooked everywhere from a small hotel to an upscale high volume restaurant. Between each of these places, one thing remained consistent: A team that is comfortable and positive displays more employee productivity than one that tows the company line.

The most fun I had as a cook was also the highest volume restaurant I worked at, and let me tell you, we had fun! Well, I should clarify. Everyone had fun except for the poor soul who was the target of that day’s prank. You see, working in a highly nerve-wracking, insanely hot, and depressingly windowless environment like a kitchen creates ample opportunities for practical jokes.

Now, it may seem that employee productivity and playing pranks would be mutually exclusive; I assure you that is not the case. Because we were all comfortable enough with each other to play pranks, our manager didn’t have to worry about who to schedule with who to ensure productivity. Now as far as the pranks went, the “I don’t know, just smell it” pranks were my particular favorites. As you can imagine, there are PLENTY of things you don’t want to smell in a kitchen. Here are a couple of examples.

One day, after an especially long and stressful meal service, my friend Sean went to grab his coat before his long walk home. What Sean wasn’t prepared for was the strange, green powder that was in his pockets.

“What is this,” Sean asked everyone.
“I don’t know, just smell it,” I said in the most innocent way I could while forcing back a smile.

To Sean’s dismay, he didn’t know we had just received a shipment of Wasabi powder until he was coughing and sneezing it out of his nose.

Don’t worry, he definitely got his payback.

One day, he was making a sauce for a banquet.

“Hey, Joe.” I hear from the back of the kitchen.

Curious, I walked to the back where he was crouched over the stove.

“Can you smell this and make sure it’s right, I’m sick,” Sean pleaded.

Since he sounded sick, I didn’t think twice. If I had, maybe I would have noticed that the only thing in the pot was boiling balsamic vinegar, and maybe I wouldn’t have spent the rest of the day coughing and blind with tears.

Even though we joked and pranked each other, we took our jobs seriously and did them with style and finesse. We were able to excel in every task because we built a strong relationship that perfectly balanced having fun and working hard. So, how could TimeForge help you cultivate an environment that maximizes employee productivity in your business? With helpful features like the AutoScheduler, you can spend less time making effective schedules that work for everyone, and more time making sure your employees are happy, and therefore, more productive.


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