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5 Tips to Increase Restaurant Employee Retention

18 Nov


Historically, the restaurant industry has had concerning turnover rates of nearly 75%. This statistic became even more evident during the COVID-19 pandemic. The May 2021 quit rate for the overall economy hovered around 2.5%—the quit rate for the hospitality and food service sector was more than double (5.7%). These turnover rates don’t even scratch the surface with how hard of a hit the industry took during the pandemic.

In December 2020 the overall U.S. workforce was down 6.5%, and the restaurant industry was down approximately 20%. Restaurants accounted for on in four of the 10 million jobs lost in the overall economy.

Being a fast-paced industry, turnover is expected—but what can be done to increase the percentage of restaurant employee retention?

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Here are five tips to improve restaurant employee retention.

Recruit All-Star Employees for Positions They’ll Thrive In.

Front of the house (FOH) positions (i.e., servers, hosts, managers) receive over three times the number of applicants than back of the house (BOH) positions (i.e., chefs, dish washers, cleaning staff), despite the BOH having more jobs.

While FOH is more desirable for applicants, it’s important you have the right people in the right roles. If you need more servers, hire people who are experienced in these positions. If you need a chef, hire someone with vast knowledge of the cuisine you serve. Without BOH employees, a restaurant can’t produce the quality food they are selling.

If you need assistance hiring top talent, consider using a recruiting guide to help navigate your efforts.

Training Starts with Onboarding

When it comes to the hospitality and food service industry, training is everything; and training needs to begin right away. There are many moving parts for every role in a restaurant and if each individual employee isn’t trained properly, you are not setting them up for success.

All employees should be trained on technology, customer service, company policies, and product knowledge. The most effective way to ensure a seamless onboarding process is with a hiring/onboarding checklist that is uniform for all new hires.

Conduct Employee Evaluations or Stay Interviews

Many businesses conduct exit interviews when an employee is leaving the company for other opportunities, but not many businesses conduct a stay interview.

Like an evaluation, a stay interview is a check-in with employees (typically veteran members of your staff) to get insight on their current perspective of the job they are working. Both employee evaluations and stay interviews are critical for restaurant employee retention as they will both provide insight into what needs to be changed to the policies you have in place.

An employee can provide valuable information on what will make them want to continue working for your business longer. Consider using an employee evaluation form for all your evaluations and stay interviews.

Offer Flexible Scheduling

Flexible scheduling can often be difficult in the restaurant industry, which is a main reason turnover is so high. Restaurant work schedules change often and last-minute, resulting in employees working long hours or consecutive shifts.

This can be a burden for employees, especially when work is continuously interfering with their personal lives. It’s important that the scheduling manager works with employees to be sure they aren’t over-worked and have a general idea of what their schedule will be like week-to-week.

By doing so, it will keep employees from getting burnt out, which is a problem in any workplace setting.

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With so much going on around you day in and day out, it’s important for you to focus on front-end, consumer facing items. Human resources involves a wide range of back-end tasks that you may not have time for. This is the reason you need to lean on your HR department or a professional employer organization (PEO) to handle HR tasks such as payroll, benefits, compliance, and workers’ compensation. A PEO will provide a wide range of resources to help with your HR efforts.

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