As title, pay, and responsibility go up, so does expectation, accountability, and respect from employers.

I talk a lot about how restaurant owners and executives should treat their employees. I talk about leadership and the role it has on a company. I talk about culture and creating great environments for their employees where they feel cared for, respected, and properly paid. I talk about work/life balance. And that’s because for way too long our industry has treated our own like crap. It’s also because I believe we get the best out of our people when they are treated as such.

But, in this week’s column, I want to flip the script. I want to talk about the responsibility that is on the employee. I want to talk about living up to the new demands employees are now putting on their employers.

The new era of restaurant employees expect more from their employer.

They want to work less hours, get paid more, be given respect, want to work from home, want full health insurance, 401K, and four weeks of vacation a year. They want their employer to invest in their training and development.

They want to feel like they are part of something bigger than themselves.

But, are they delivering performance and success equal to what they expect? Do they step up and earn the money, benefits, training, and respect or is there any truth in the phrase “Young people today are a bunch of entitled prima donnas”? I guess that depends on the person. There are a lot of great people out there but, I do think there are many today that are “entitled prima donnas.” However, I know there are a lot that step up and earn what they ask for because that’s who I have hired over the last few years. But what happened that started this notion, entitlement?

This is going to be a very contentious conversation and many of you may not like what I’m about to say. I believe there are a lot of entitled employees in our industry today. And I think this destructive way of thinking started with participation trophies being given out to kids.

Somehow, our schools and our youth sporting teams ruined us. We learned that as long as we showed up, we should receive the same reward everyone else gets. We learned that we don’t have to perform and we surely don’t have to win.

But that’s not reality. Whether you are a professional athlete, an actor, singer, or CEO, you have to perform well. You have to win. If you don’t, then you don’t get paid. While there are scenarios that are exceptions we still live in a zero-sum game and performance-based world. Employees today, still must do more than just show up. If you are an athlete, you have to win. If you are an actor, you have to sell seats in theaters. If you are a singer, you must sell albums (or downloads) and concert tickets. If you are a CEO your stock has to make people wealthy. While there can be symbiotic relationships where both parties win, there still are winners and losers in many situations.

Regardless, of the new demands on employers, employees still have to perform. And if they don’t there will be a day of reckoning. People still get fired. People get passed up for raises and promotions. Raises and promotions don’t come through osmosis. You don’t get raises and promotions just because you are standing next to someone in the same position and they get a raise.

In my operations career I attracted phenomenal people and was fortunate enough to work with the best. That’s because I provided the work environment and opportunity that the new generation wants. But don’t think I didn’t ask for something in return. If you worked with me, I expected you to show up every day and be the best version of yourself. I didn’t expect perfection but I expected effort.

As your title, pay, and responsibility go up, so does expectation, accountability, and respect from your employer. So, I encourage employees to step up. If you want the things you want like high pay, respect, understanding, a great working environment, and support then give what you want to get. Earn the money, the respect, the understanding. If you want loyalty, be loyal. Be part of creating a great culture because you set the bar. No one’s going to give you a participation trophy for showing up. Show up and crush it!

If you are a restaurant owner or executive and you want help creating the right environment, hiring and retaining great people, and holding the expectation high, click the link below to book a FREE call to discuss how I can help.

Editor’s note: This is the 24th article in a new column from restaurant expert Monte Silva. More on the series can be found here. The first story, on Why Underpaying Restaurant Employees is a Recipe for Disaster, is here. The second, on Why Marketing is Not Expensive, is here. The third, on people-centric leadership, is here. The fourth, on Why Working 70-Hour Weeks in Your Restaurant is Not the Answer, is here. The fifth, on How to Provide Hospitality in a High-Tech, Low-Touch World, is here. The sixth, on ‘The Convertible Culture’ in Restaurants, is here. The seventh, on Why the Old P&L Model Has Set Restaurants Up for Failure,’ is here. The eighth, on How to Scale Your Restaurant Business When There is Only One of You, is here. The ninth article, The Secret to Finding and Keeping Great Employees is Not Difficult, is here. The 10th, What Culture Do You Really Want at Your Restaurant?, is here. The 11th, on Your Restaurant Should Serve People, Not Product, is here. The 12th, on Don’t Let Shiny New Toys Distract Your Restaurant from What’s Most Important, is here. The the 13th, on Why Restaurant Value Shouldn’t Be Based on Price, is here. The 14th, on The Case for Hyper-Focused Menus, is here. The 15th, This is How Your Restaurant Will Survive Beyond 3 Years, is here. The 16th, on The Difference Between a Restaurant Coach and Consultant, is here. The 17th, What is a Restaurant Tech Stack, and How Do You Know if You Built the Right One? is here. The 18th, You Can’t Make Someone Accountable if You Haven’t Made Them Responsible, is here. The 19th, Memo to Restaurants: Service and Hospitality are Not the Same Thing, is here. The 20th, Why a Penny Saved in a Restaurant is Not Always a Penny Earned, is here. The 21st, on Why You’re Never Too Old for Greatness, is here. The 22nd, Why Consistency is the Only Way to Keep Your Restaurant Open, is here. And the 23rd, onThe Restaurant Industry Doesn’t Have a Labor Shortage—It Has a Leader Shortage, is here.

Expert Takes, Feature, Labor & Employees