Series Part 8: Final Thoughts for Leaders

As we wrap up our series on employee morale, we share final thoughts for leaders on how to continuously monitor and ensure that your staff is happy.


Well, this is it. We’ve come to the end of our series on how to make employees happier at work. I’ve thought a lot about why I’m writing this series and why you ”as a business owner, a manager, or even as a barista working the floor ”should care. And throughout this series, I’ve given a lot  of different statistics  and figures attached to sales growth, loss of profits when training new staff, etc ¦that show that happier baristas ensure positive outcomes. But I keep coming back to something an audience member said to me during a talk I gave at This Coffee Thing a few months ago about this very topic. When I asked why we should care about happy baristas, this participant said:

œBecause people deserve to be happy at work. 

At the end of the day, people will be happy at work if you care about their happiness. Happiness can’t just be a means to an end, but a constant goal, always at the forefront of your mind and part of what guides the decisions you make as a leader. Obviously, this isn’t always easy ”I wouldn’t have written an eight part series if I thought it was, but it can be managed. Here are some final thoughts for you bosses and managers thinking about how to keep your staff happy.

  1. Communicate

Have I said this enough? Communication is key to a happy staff at every stage. People need to know what’s going on, why decisions are being made, how they’re doing, and what they can be improving on. Communication is important in small ways, like asking your staff about their lives, and in big ways, like communicating your vision for the store. If you’re not sure how to approach a difficult situation with an employee, the absolute worst thing you can do is ignore it. Even if you feel hesitant or nervous, talk to your employees openly and share those reservations. At least all your cards are out on the table, and you might learn something you didn’t know about your staff or how the store operates.

  1. Constantly Assess Yourself

One piece of feedback I got from readers of this series is that a lot of the points I made seemed obvious, but that many of their leaders weren’t following them. I’m a café manager myself, and even as I sit and write these ideas down, I struggle with translating them to my real life. So I try to constantly assess my performance. If something goes wrong, I try to ask if I could have done better or been clearer or more supportive. This isn’t easy ”it involves being critical of yourself and your own performance, which can be scary, but will ultimately lead to a better store with engaged and committed baristas.

  1. Look and Listen

I’m telling you to be communicative, but that doesn’t mean your baristas always will be. Sometimes, you have to find other ways to figure out what they’re trying to tell you. If someone’s complaining about not having enough money, maybe a talk about a wage raise is due. If someone seems tired at work, perhaps they need to discuss having too many opening shifts. Your baristas need to feel valued and taken care of, but it’s hard to ask for the things you need, especially if you don’t know what they are. As a leader, it’s your job to identify these things and help build a pathway to happiness and fulfillment.

  1. Have Fun and Be Genuine

Your staff will be happy at work if you care a whole bunch and have a good time. I know when I’ve worked with bosses or owners, those shifts can be the most stressful and worrisome ”they shouldn’t be. They should be fun and light, and everyone should be trying to have a good time while working hard. You set the tone for your café and for your staff, and if you portray negativity, your baristas will feel it.

Although this series is ending, I’ll be starting a new How-To series next week tackling common café business issues. From how to hire to how to set your hours, we’ll break down all the essentials of café management and ownership. Until then, please send me your comments, questions, and ideas for how-to topics to

About Ashley Rodriguez 413 Articles
Ashley is the Online Editor for Barista Magazine. She's based in Chicago. If you want to share a story or have a comment, you can reach her at