How restaurants can retain top employees

How restaurants can retain top employees

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Restaurant employees come and go as fast as food on the line on a busy Saturday night. In 2014, the food service industry's annual turnover rate was 94 percent for hourly employees and 34 percent for managers, according to People, as reported by the Nation's Restaurant News. Constant turnover means putting out more fires and shelling out extra money for training – two things managers loathe. Luckily, restaurants can solve this issue with a little self-examination and a lot of employee support. 

Turnover is the industry's Achilles' heel
Jim Sullivan, chief executive of, hit the nail on the head in his recent Nation's Restaurant News post: Churn and burn is the restaurant industry's Achilles heel. He explained that he's tired of people pointing fingers at millennials' self-entitlement as part of the problem when restaurants can do better

Take some time this week to honestly evaluate how your employees are being treated. Are they working painfully long shift – for example, several doubles in a row? Do members of the staff micro-manage one another, and if so, are they being diligent and fair, or are they speaking condescendingly to others? Further, consider why people might like working for you. If you have a hard time coming up with something, that's a bad sign. 

"Hot-tempered chefs have been mistakenly dismissed as passionate."

Luckily, your establishment isn't doomed for all eternity if your employees hate their jobs, peers and supervisors. In fact, a little morale boosting and training can work wonders for your elusive staff. It's time to start seeing your company as that – a company.

Since the dawn of the food and beverage industry, hot-tempered chefs have been mistakenly dismissed as passionate, which is part of the problem. People must stop using the excuse that you need a thick skin to work in the restaurant industry. Turning a blind eye to mistreatment is what breeds issues. Start with treating people like humans and put in a little effort to retain your top dogs.

Passion isn't mean
An effortless yet effective way to keep your staff is by promoting within. Nothing's more annoying than seeing some new guy walk in and take the bartender job you've had your eye on for years. Allow your bussers to segue into serving jobs, servers into managerial roles and line cooks into sous chefs. These people know your company better than the newbies, and they're more likely to be loyal if they feel like they can climb the corporate ladder under your guidance. 

Even during rush hour, employees should be encouraged to speak to each other in an appropriate tone.Even during rush hour, employees should be encouraged to speak to each other in an appropriate tone.

Better communication in general is always better than a lack of it. The Wall Street Journal explained that regular meetings with employees and higher ups give both parties a chance to present ideas and offer feedback. Stress an open-door policy to your staff and make them feel comfortable so that they are more prone to tell you when something is wrong rather than run out angrily mid-shift. 

Leave no stone unturned
Along the same lines, it's crucial that the people who work for you know exactly what you expect of them. Even the most basic responsibilities should be openly discussed. If you have a corporate shoe policy that states employees must wear slip-resistant footwear at all times, discuss the benefits of it and why it's important. A new person might not realize all of the hazards associated with a restaurant setting and might think it's a waste of money to invest in a pair of work shoes

Ambiguity makes make it hard for employees to understand how they can excel at their jobs, subsequently making the overall morale of the company dip. Thoroughly train your staff and don't be afraid to offer small incentives like a comped meal. Small gestures of gratitude and a firm education empower people to take ownership of their roles. 

Gripping news brought to you by Shoes For Crews, the trusted leader in safety footwear for more than 30 years.

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