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3 Ways to Improve Restaurant Employee Retention

We know how challenging it is to staff and run restaurants. You will never eliminate turnover, but you can put strategies in place to lessen the impact it has on your business. Employee retention is a long-term strategy and here are 3 things to help you get started today.

1. Make Work Fun

This may sound obvious, but the first thing you want to keep in mind is that you want it to be enjoyable for your team members to be going into work. Remember, it’s work; it’s probably not their favorite thing in the world. How do you help them enjoy what they’re doing so they’re happy and engaged?

You don't want your team members to be dreading going into work, so it’s on you to figure out how you can make it fun. Whether you create a healthy competition through different contests or even something as simple as creating a habit to tell each team member what they're doing well every day. You’ll be surprised at how much of a difference this makes on employee happiness.

2. Communicate - No Surprises!

Communication is incredibly important. One thing we constantly see is that restaurants aren't ready for their shifts. For example, their prep list isn’t done so the food isn't ready to go. Tons of people come in and then the team members will have a lot of stress because they’re not prepared and it’s nearly impossible to keep up with the rush. We’ve all seen it, right? So, one way you can work to make it more enjoyable is making sure that you're ready for every single shift so that there isn't any stress.

Here’s another good example: how many times have you heard someone say, “Oh man, my boss just made me work a double shift”?

Don’t be the manager that schedules these without asking and clearly communicating expectations. It’s unavoidable in the restaurant businesses, but it’s all in how you handle it. It can even begin with the onboarding process. Have an honest conversation and saying something like, “So, you shouldn’t have many unexpected double shifts but sometimes it comes up. I’ll try to give you as much notice as possible and you won’t be required when I ask.”

Even if you have three members call off for the afternoon shift and you’re severely understaffed, never make your team members feel like they don't have a choice to work the double shift. If you desperately need the help, let them know and you can even entice them with a free meal to make them feel like they didn't get the raw end of the deal. But it’s important to give them the option to say no.

Sometimes it’s unavoidable. However if it’s a chronic problem and you’re dictating to your staff that they have to stay for a second shift or their job might be in jeopardy, you're probably not going to have very happy employees.

3. Conduct “Stay Interviews” Regularly

We’ve all had jobs where we interviewed, accepted the offer, and had to wait six months or even a year before we had a performance review. Not very helpful, is it?

That doesn’t fly anymore. It’s critical to make an impact with your staff and put a system in place where you are talking with them regularly, or they’re going to leave for someone who does. We call them stay interviews. 

It would be great if you could have a standing monthly meeting with each of your team members. First, employees should never have to guess whether or not they’re doing a good job. Meeting with them 1-on-1 regularly to coach them, ask for feedback, and help them develop will go a long way. There should be no surprises at their yearly performance reviews because you’re touching base every month along the way.

We hope you find these helpful! For more tips about increasing employee retention at your restaurant, download our checklist, 6 Ways to Decrease Employee Turnover at Your Restaurant.

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Everyone in the restaurant industry is dealing with high employee turnover rates.

Everyone in the restaurant industry is dealing with high employee turnover rates. Some may be facing this problem more than others
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