5 Principles For Retaining Restaurant Employees

January 26, 2017 Kelly Marc Alston

In 2016, profitability for restaurants in the middle of the pricing spectrum was squeezed by competition from both ends, and by employee turnover.

Reducing turnover is a top priority in 2017 for many of these restaurants. This objective can be accomplished by creating a culture that encourages retention. According to a recent CAP study, the average savings per retained employee are roughly

  • 16% of salary for jobs paying under $30,000 per year
  • 20% of salary for jobs paying $30,000 to $50,000 per year

Meaning, if you retain four employees earning $25,000 and four earning $40,000 in 2017, you will save approximately $48,000. By implementing the following employee retention principles, you should be able to reap these savings, while building a winning employee culture:

  1. Hire the right people for the right reason
    Qualifications matter less than desire and personality in restaurant hiring. A team player with a desire to earn roles of increasing responsibility is harder to find than a candidate with prior experience in a particular role. You can always train for skills, but a candidate without a long-term view and the motivation to work toward goals are not as committed to staying.
  2. Provide comprehensive onboarding and training
    Training should begin with an intentional and comprehensive onboarding process. Share your company values and let new employees know that you want them to succeed. A great way to start the onboarding orientation is by telling new employees about your restaurant’s concept, culture, customers, and product. Have current employees assist with hands-on cross-training in a variety of job-related tasks, and expose each new employee to all functions in the front and back of the restaurant. And remember to continue to train employees on new roles and functions to keep them growing and engaged in their work.
  3. Give feedback to adjust behavior, not to criticize it  
    One of the impediments to delivering the kind of feedback an employee would expect in a work setting is the presumption that an employee has no long-term career aspirations in the restaurant industry, so feedback doesn’t matter. Many times, long-term career goals are fostered by the kind of feedback, training, and support that you give to your staff. Make sure to provide consistent and constructive feedback: praise strong performance, even if that praise seems repetitive.  And finally, offer a path to career growth. 78% of employees in a recent study said they would stay in their current job if a career path was evident.
  4. Reward excellence  
    Employees don’t leave restaurants. They leave unhappy work situations. They do so especially when they feel underappreciated and when their best efforts go unrecognized. Humans need recognition, and when they excel in their work, they deserve to be rewarded for it. Say thank you daily and incorporate incentives and rewards for meeting objectives and milestones into your restaurant’s culture. Employees talk about their experiences to one another, both good and bad. Make sure to give your employees reasons to promote the work environment, not denigrate it.
  5. Hire the best managers
    If you want your restaurant to be a better place to work than your local competition, you need outstanding managers. Great managers aren’t just better at running the operations of your business - they understand the importance of employee retention and execute successfully on the principles we’ve outlined. When you find good managers, do everything you can to help them achieve their own career aspirations.

All of these principles share one common goal: to stimulate employee engagement. According to a HighGround study, highly engaged employees are twice as likely to stay. Successful employee engagement programs can increase yearly profits per employee by $2,400. We believe this makes employee retention as important to your restaurant as anything else.

Hoops Talent On-Demand does all the work on the front end to find and qualify local restaurant talent, then delivers candidate profiles of engaged job seekers who are ready to go. Give us a call at (877) 262-7358 or send us an email at info@hoopshr.com to get started today.

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