Personal Attributes and Professionalism

4 Employee’s Role

Doing your job well means doing it correctly, working neatly, handling equipment and materials properly, and working safely.

Do the Job Correctly

When a job is done correctly, your customers will be happy and satisfied. A job done correctly means no complaints or call-backs, and could mean a compliment or recommendation from the customer or your supervisor.

Here are a few examples from the industry of the implications of not doing the job correctly:

Cleaning: If a restaurant worker assigned to clean up only drags a damp mop over the floor in areas where there is obvious dirt, he or she has not cleaned the floor properly. If the health inspector makes a surprise visit and finds that the floor looks relatively clean but has not been properly sanitized, there could be consequences for everyone. In extreme cases, the whole restaurant may be shut down until the inspector is sure the operation meets basic cleanliness requirements.

Rotation of food supplies in the kitchen: The employees who start to use the freshest items before perfectly good older items are consumed can cost the business money if the older items have to be thrown out the next day.

Serving meals: If one customer senses that another customer has received better service, the business may have just lost the first customer and maybe even more if that person shares the bad experience with friends and others, such as through an online review site. In fact, most people are more likely to share a story of a bad dining experience than they are a good one. Always strive to give the customer the very best possible experience you can!

Work Neatly

Neatness pleases customers and employers. Many people think that the condition of a work area reflects a person’s work habits. They figure that someone with a messy work area probably does messy work. Working neatly and in an organized way is also the key to working efficiently.

Neatness saves time and trouble. In a neat work area, you do not have to waste time looking for tools or equipment. Neatness is necessary for safety. A sloppy work area is usually a dangerous one as well. It is easy to trip over objects left on the floor, to slip on spilled liquids, or to get hurt on something sharp or hot that has been left lying around. Often, clutter hides other dangers, like a frayed electric cord or a broken container.

When you finish a task or leave for the day, clean the work area, replace tools in tool boxes, and stack materials in their designated location. It makes for a great start the next day.

Handle Equipment and Materials Properly

Employers supply their workers with equipment and materials needed to do the job. These supplies cost employers money, so they want to see that they are used properly. Abused equipment and wasted materials show an employer that you do not care about the job or the employer. Your employer has estimated the price for a menu item based on the amount of time and materials it should take to prepare the meal. If you take too long to prepare the item or waste expensive ingredients, you obviously do not share your employer’s concern for costs.

Some employees think the employer is too big or rich to notice some waste here and there. Or they feel that taking care of the employer’s property is not their responsibility. Knives and food go missing and these employees simply assume that it’s not their problem. Employees with this attitude do not realize that such waste hurts them as much as their employer.

Your job depends on the success of the business. Profits go down when the business must spend money replacing wasted, damaged, or stolen property. Lower profits can mean lower salaries or fewer pay raises. If the losses are too great and the restaurant closes, you could lose your job.

Work Safely

Part of any job is learning and following safety rules. All workers need to be concerned about careless or unsafe acts. When you start a job, learn the safety rules and special hazards (dangers) of the job. Find out where the fire extinguishers, fire exits, and first aid kit are located.

If you see an unsafe condition or a safety violation, you can prevent accidents by doing something about it immediately. If you find a safety hazard, take action in one or more of these ways:

  • Try to correct the unsafe condition
  • Warn others
  • Inform your supervisor
  • Inform those who caused the safety violation
  • Inform the safety officer or repair staff
  • Check to be sure the violation has been corrected

Time Management

Some workers think that a good attendance record is enough to satisfy the employer’s expectations. However, they arrive on time but then interrupt their workday by doing personal tasks. It is so easy to waste work time that many employees do not realize they are doing it. For example, some people take long lunch breaks or too many coffee breaks; others spend time on the phone with friends or handling personal business. Some waste time by socializing with co-workers when they should be working. This wastes twice as much time, since the co-workers also stop working.

Wasting company time, like missing work, costs the employer money. Employers must give you an unpaid meal break of half an hour after five hours of work. They do not have to give you coffee breaks, although many do. (Contracts and collective agreements may increase unpaid break times and stipulate paid breaks.) However, when break time is over, employers have the right to expect you to work.

Some tasks have assigned deadlines whereas others do not. For tasks that do not have assigned deadlines, employers expect you to set goals for yourself. To get your work done on time, try to figure out how long it will take to finish a certain amount of work. Depending on your position, you may be given tasks with a broader focus. You may be put in charge of a certain event for example. This requires you to establish deadlines for the scope of work (e.g., when the order of food must be placed, when certain components of the menu must be prepared, and ultimately the day, time, setup, and service of the food all become part of your work). Whatever the amount of responsibility you have at the time, consider the points regarding getting your work done as important tools for success.

Getting your work done on time helps you to keep your job. You need to:

  • Set priorities
  • Begin the job right away
  • Keep working until the job is done
  • Keep deadlines in mind and stick to them
  • Use resources efficiently

Job Satisfaction

Job satisfaction is influenced by a number of factors, such as:

  • Pay
  • Benefits
  • Working conditions
  • Opportunities for advancement
  • Job security

These factors also seem to be the first things considered when people decide whether or not to take or change jobs. In addition, there are other factors that contribute to job satisfaction on an everyday basis. Recognition, appreciation, respect, courtesy, and good management-worker relations often have greater everyday importance than do the rate of pay and job security.

The working relationships you develop with others will be extremely important to your success and the satisfaction that you derive from your job. Studies reveal that people more frequently resign from a job because of how they have been treated or valued rather than dissatisfaction with their pay. A personal sense of worth and identity is very important. Sometimes people find themselves in jobs that are less than satisfying for any one of the reasons identified above, or because they are not suited to that particular job. Often quitting is not an option, especially in tough economic times when other opportunities are limited. It is important to recognize that working in an environment where you feel constantly frustrated or unhappy may cause physical or mental problems, some of which may be severe. Studies indicate that people unhappy in their jobs have more accidents. In some cases, people who are unhappy at work but cannot leave or change their jobs learn to separate their self-esteem from their work and find their primary satisfaction in family or leisure activities, while for others it may have the opposite effect, and they bring their work frustrations home with them.

Attendance and Punctuality

Employers get frustrated when their employees are not at work when they are scheduled to be. There is a job to be done and when workers do not show up, the business loses valuable time and money. When you take a job, it is up to you to arrange how to get to work every day on time. If you miss work or arrive late too often, you may:

  • Be warned by your supervisor
  • Be resented by your co-workers
  • Receive a poor rating on your performance review
  • Miss a promotion or raise
  • Lose pay
  • Be subject to a suspension or even lose your job

It is extremely important that you communicate any attendance or punctuality issues with your supervisor as soon as you become aware of them. If you know that you might be slightly late on a particular day and your supervisor knows in advance, he or she can schedule accordingly. However, if you arrive late without telling anyone, it shows a lack of respect for the schedule, your job, the business, and your co-workers. Communication is key.


The first time you come in late your supervisor will probably not do much more than speak to you about it. If it happens again, you may be reprimanded and given a warning that continual lateness may cost you your job. Sometimes you cannot help being late or absent; in that case, you should let your supervisor know why as soon as possible. You may have a sudden sickness in your family or experience car trouble on the way to work, but even these reasons may not be acceptable if they happen too often.


When you are late or absent, it usually makes things harder for your co-workers. They may have to do your share of the work until you arrive. If you are a part of a team, a whole crew may have to stand around waiting for you. Although most people do not mind helping in an emergency, they do not want to do your job or be delayed by you.


Supervisors evaluate their workers on a regular basis, usually once or twice a year. If you are often late or absent, your attendance rating will be affected. A low rating affects not only your present job but also can impact you later when you apply for jobs with other businesses and they phone for a reference.

Promotions and raises

Your lateness and absence may cost you a raise or a chance for promotion. If you cannot be relied on to show up, you give your employer the impression that you do not take the job seriously.

Pay loss

If you are not putting in a full day’s work, why should you be paid for one? Employers lose money when workers do not put in their full time. If you are absent, you may lose a full day’s pay, and if you are late, your employer only has to pay you for the hours you worked.

Suspension or job loss

If you continue to be absent or late, you will lose your job. Most employers will give you a few warnings and then proceed to a suspension without pay. If your attendance does not improve, the employer has little choice but to let you go.

Employee evaluation

Employers want workers who have good work attitudes and who practise good work habits. They expect you to come to work on time, dress properly, follow rules and instructions, and get the job done correctly and on time.

Many employers use rating scales to evaluate workers’ job performance and work attitudes. These ratings are placed in your personnel file. When your supervisor is considering promoting or firing you, these files are used to help in the decision. The list below is typical of an employee evaluation.

  • Has a good attendance record (is seldom late or absent)
  • Makes good use of time (starts work promptly; does not waste time)
  • Meets deadlines (plans ahead and sees that work is finished on time)
  • Shows initiative (works hard without being told to)
  • Does not give up easily (tries and tries again)
  • Shows honesty (can be trusted; accepts the blame for own mistakes)
  • Is dependable (always finishes the job)
  • Does not waste materials (plans and works carefully so no goods are damaged or wasted; takes good care of tools and equipment)
  • Obeys safety rules (prevents accidents by following all safety instructions)
  • Follows instructions (pays attention to directions and follows them carefully)
  • Is willing to learn (shows interest in improving job performance; follows suggestions)
  • Works accurately (takes care to do things right; does not make careless mistakes, keeps good records)
  • Gets along well with others (supervisors, co-workers, and customers; works cooperatively and is thoughtful and respectful of others)
  • Shows loyalty (speaks well of the employer and its products; does not give out confidential information)


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Working in the Food Service Industry Copyright © 2015 by The BC Cook Articulation Committee is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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