How to reduce staff turnover in your restaurant

Your food could be amazing, but if you don’t have the staff to serve it, your future growth opportunities are severely limited.

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November 7, 2017 3 min read

In the highly competitive food and beverage service industry, turnover eats at margins and can determine whether a restaurant remains open or shutters prematurely. Culinary students soon to enter the professional workforce as chefs, managers or owners of their own establishments must factor in these backend business costs.

Your food could be amazing, but if you don’t have the staff to serve it, your future growth opportunities are severely limited.

To reduce turnover:

Refine your hiring process

Perhaps the best way to ensure your staffing investments pay off over time is to pick the right candidate at the right moment. Easier said than done, right?

Hiring isn’t just about wages, scheduling and experience. You must also be on the lookout for the intangibles: Is a candidate eager and willing to learn everything about the business? Is an applicant a joy to be around, one that embodies the identity of your brand? Does a new hire share your company values and fit into your existing culture?

Answering yes to these types of questions can fast-track the perfect employees while weeding out those who may give less-than-stellar responses.

Create a bonus program

Getting great staff in the door is one thing; retaining them is another.

Even competitive wages or salary, flexible scheduling and perhaps a benefits package may not be enough to satisfy your top-performing employees. Incentivizing them based on results, customer commendations and co-worker interactions can elevate staff members to new level of productivity as they earn small bonuses, gift cards, free meals, an extra day off or access to local events.

You can design your rewards program however you see fit; just make sure it’s fair and fully explained to all employees.

Focus on priority scheduling

One of the reasons professionals enter into the service industry is because they don’t necessarily enjoy a standard 9-5 office job. They like a schedule built around their lifestyles.

Priority scheduling means tenured employees, high-productivity staff or often-praised workers are offered schedules that are more fluid and are built around their future needs.

Instead of opening a massive spreadsheet, scanning all your employees and putting their names in time slots, start first with your top employees and build next week’s schedule around their preferred availability. Knowing employers and managers care about their happiness means a lot to staff.

Welcome employee feedback

Whether it’s through exit interviews, anonymous surveys or monthly 1-to-1s with staff, you need an open line of communication into workplace satisfaction to determine what can be done better in the future.

Getting comprehensive insight into the day-to-day sentiment of all staff allows you to check the pulse of those who may be on the way out the door. Then, you can have a conversation as to how things should change for the betterment of all parties.

Create advancement pathways

Service industry positions are often lower-wage, tip-based jobs for the front of house, while back-of-house employees tend to be strictly wage-incentivized. We’ve all started from somewhere, but moving up is on the mind of every employee from day one.

Structuring pathways that make sense from a business standpoint provides transparency for employees and goals for those who want to achieve more.

This framework should also include the potential to move laterally into other types of roles in addition to upward into management and even partnership positions.

Do right by your staff and they’re more likely to work harder and stick around longer. In many ways, it’s a simple dollar-in, dollar-out investment.

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