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Casual Dishonesty: Any of These Need Your Attention?

Restaurant Management TipsEver seen staff help themselves to food, drink or cash, and they seem to think it’s OK?

You call it shrinkage, waste, ‘unders’, discrepancies or theft. What do they call it?

It’s the grey areas that cause problems: drinks or food for friends and family, sloppy work that results in waste, or taking home left-overs. Grey has to become black or white. Does the culture you’ve created reward honesty, or overlook those who break the rules? Do the consequences encourage the behaviour you desire?

Don’t beat around the bush – make it clear what’s not acceptable. And let’s tell the truth – sometimes it’s the boss’ shortcuts or bad example that encourages staff to make the wrong choice.

What would your ruling be on these situations?

* Free drinks or meals for friends or family who come to visit.
* Special prices for staff visiting from other hotels, cafes or clubs.
* Staff drinks at the end of the night that go one more than the rules allow.
* Sloppy writing up of the Stock-transfer Book so the stocktake makes no sense and is disregarded – again.
* Cook allows something to burn because she won’t get properly organised.
* Beer lines contaminated and keg wasted because cleaning procedures not properly followed.
* Using the computer at work to write up your resume to apply for another job.
* Using the ‘Open Key’ on the Cash Register because it’s quicker and easier. As a result sales count figures at the end of the week are invalid and stock usage can’t be checked.
* ‘I’m just putting the money in the till while we’re so busy – I’ll ring it all up later’.
* A staff member says ‘I won’t charge you for that because I know the service you got wasn’t very good’. A better tip follows…
* Kitchen worker asks the bar ‘can I have some beer for my buddies in the kitchen?
* The Till is ‘over’ – so it must have been a tip that we forgot to take out.
* Employee overstates hours or changes times because the hard work she’s been doing is going unrecognised.
* Signing for lesser quality meat or produce and ‘we’ll fix it up on the invoice next time’ – which we forget to do.
* Personal phone calls received or made in work time.
* Keeping free samples from vendors eg food samples, bottles of wine or liquor.
* Serving adults at junior or senior prices ‘because they can’t afford it’.
* Chefs or bar managers expecting personal gifts from suppliers to secure an account.

Code of Conduct – it’s one of the important sections of the Staff Manual you can download from the Staff Management Forms and Downloads. In Word format, you can modify it as much as you like – it’s a solid start to prepare this essential policy document.

About Ken Burgin

Ken Burgin works with Profitable Hospitality - a leading industry website offering a wide range of management resources and cost-control systems for restaurants, cafes, hotels and bars.

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  1. Excellent post! And I love that you began with, “And let’s tell the truth – sometimes it’s the boss’ shortcuts or bad example that encourages staff to make the wrong choice.”

    That is key and reminds me of a quote I saw today on twitter from @ThinkBIG_blog: “If you inspire others to have confidence in you, but more importantly you inspire others to have confidence in themselves, you are a leader.”

    One of the keys to confidence is rules and the boundaries rules set. You’re so right about a code of conduct. Having one gives employees and the employer the ability to be confident in knowing their position and what’s expected. That of course starts with good solid and consistent leadership.

  2. Most people would never steal products from a retail store they work for yet it seems that restaurants are really prone to this problem. I think this lies within the nature of the product itself. In our culture food and drink are always readily shared amongst people. This part of our culture turns food into less of a “product” when it comes to business. A publicly posted Code of Conduct is a great start along with constant refresher training.

  3. Codes of conduct are one way to enforce the integrity of your employees but you also need to make sure as an owner you are hiring the right people who buy into your culture and understand their role and the impact they can have by preserving the already slim profits of the restaurant industry. This is easier said than done but management setting the standard themselves is another way encourage employees of the right way to protect the business and help ensure their own job security in the long run.

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