Per TDn2K's 2018 Recruiting and Turnover Report, the average cost of turnover per manager for restaurants is $13,867. Oof.
The restaurant business is notorious for a few things, not least of all turnover. Across most industries, people today tend to stay at jobs for shorter amounts of time. The days of entire careers spent with a single employer have come and gone. Specifically, the hospitality business has always had notably high turnover, so it’s no surprise that Food + Bev employees are changing jobs faster than ever. It’s an ongoing, seemingly never-ending struggle to keep your employees, so today, we’ve put together a few handy tips and tricks to do just that.
We figured it’s best to just get this one out of the way. It’s certainly the most obvious (and maybe most painful) solution. Paying your employees more competitive rates is the number one thing that will keep them around. Rarely will an employee move to a lesser-paying job, so starting employees at livable, reasonable wages is our #1 tip. Giving regular, incremental raises is also going to help out here.
Sure, you can most certainly staff your restaurant on minimum wage. But you’ll get what you pay for...and that’s not much. Your employees are your business in the restaurant industry. Some may handle your customers, handle your money, and handle your product all at once. If they don’t feel inclined to perform well...your whole operation can suffer. When employees don’t have a competitive salary by which to value themselves, they can feel exploited and taken advantage of. Of course, with these feelings comes an increased likelihood to look elsewhere for employment.
This is another ‘common sense’ tactic in eliminating (or reducing) turnover in your restaurant. Avoid panic hiring. Instead, take your time in screening applicants. Reach out to past employers. Check references. Be thorough. Don’t simply hire the first well-qualified person that comes across your desk. The more carefully you can vet your employees, the more you can avoid having to re-hire over and over again.
Perhaps re-evaluate what qualities you’re looking for in an employee’s resume. Say candidate “A” lacks the experience of candidate “B”. But, candidate “A” was with their previous employer for several years, while candidate “B” has a history of bouncing around from job to job. We’d suggest candidate “A” as a better long-term hire.
There’s no one better qualified to assess your restaurant’s working conditions than its employees. We suggest performing quarterly surveys amongst your staff to find out what’s working, and what may need some adjusting. It’s crucial that these surveys are able to be filled out anonymously. Employees shouldn’t feel like they are at risk in criticizing their management. By giving your staff an anonymous platform, they’ll speak more truthfully and freely.
Even more importantly, management needs to do more than listen. You should be willing to make real, visible changes in the operation of your establishment. The only thing worse than not surveying your employees? Surveying and not acting.
In an industry where loyalty is rare, it’s crucial to reward tenured staff members. Don’t try to equate loyalty and job performance -- they’re two different qualities, but they both deserve rewarding in their own right. Although employees who perform their job incredibly are a joy to have around, those staff members who perform adequately and with loyalty are also deserving of accolades.
It’s pretty simple, really. If we’re looking to cultivate loyalty amongst our team, rewarding loyalty is a great way of doing that. Be sure that these rewards are visible to other members of your team. This way, you can frame loyalty as something to strive for, and as something to be achieved. Biannual raises, regardless of performance, are one way of doing this. We’ve also seen some restaurants expanding employees’ health benefits on a yearly basis.
Employees have lives outside of work. They have families, friends, and other commitments. We shouldn’t expect our staff to revolve around our business -- it’s simply not reasonable. Instead, we should work with our staff to create schedules that work for everyone... Even if that means taking a hit once in a while. While you may end up short-staffed one or two nights, the result is going to be long-lasting employees who enjoy working for your establishment. As a manager, you’re being paid more than your employees. Make sacrifices for them -- it will pay off.
Of course, you want to avoid being taken advantage of, but do allow for flexibility. If an employee gives advance warning that they cannot work on a certain day, they shouldn’t be punished for that. Try to be sympathetic. The restaurant industry is demanding -- don’t make it any more difficult than it needs to be.
Benefits (And Not Just Health Insurance)
Just like we’ve stressed giving your guests an experience they can’t achieve at home, we champion doing something similar for your employees. Give them opportunities and experiences that other employers can’t. Organize educational, fun field trips like brewery or winery visits. Bring in industry experts for continuing education and seminars. Not sure if your staff will bite? Try combining this with another one of our tips -- have a brainstorming session with your staff to see what kinds of opportunities appeal to them.
Employees should get more out of working for you than a paycheck, and that’s where this stuff comes in. You should strive to further their careers, just like they strive to further the success of your restaurant. The employee-manager relationship should be a two-way street.