7 min read

Six Ideas That Improve Restaurant Employee Retention

Jul 28, 2022 1:27:12 PM

Restaurant workers are still quitting their jobs at an alarming rate. According to economists, the quit rate in hospitality and food service is nearly double that of the national average coming in at 6% vs 3%.

These stats shouldn't be surprising, however. Repeated lockdowns, mask and vaccine mandates, and hostile customers have put restaurant workers under a lot of pressure and stress over the last few years. 

And with precarious job security, it's no wonder many left the restaurant industry in search of a new career. 

But, now that restaurants are fully open again and the public is out enjoying meals and drinks with friends on sunny patios, you need staff to keep things running employee retention

If you're struggling to find and retain employees, you might need a new approach. Especially now that restaurant workers aren't willing to work in toxic environments no matter how good the pay.

Keep reading and discover how you can improve restaurant employee retention at your establishment. 

Why Prioritize Restaurant Employee Retention?

Employee turnover isn't always a bad thing. Letting underperforming restaurant workers go can help to improve culture. But if you're seeing a high turnover rate, it's costing your restaurant money. 

Considering worker turnover costs can equal up to one-third of an employee's annual salary, it's a good idea to emphasize hiring and training quality restaurant staff. You want workers who will stick around and remain loyal to your business. 

It's also better for your bottom line since long-term employees are more familiar with restaurant operations. They'll make fewer costly mistakes and can take on roles with greater responsibility like training new staff or opening new restaurant locations. 

Long-term servers can also build rapport with long-time patrons. Who doesn't love it when a server remembers what they ordered last time?!

With a major labor shortage in the United States, your staff have options. If you don't prioritize employee retention, you'll constantly be hiring and training new staff.

Strategies To Improve Restaurant Employee Retention

Improving restaurant employee retention won't happen overnight. There's no hack to fixing low employee morale or high turnover, but there are strategies you can employ over time to improve retention.

Offer Competitive Pay And Benefits

Sadly, restaurant workers have put up with far too much rude and toxic behavior from customers. Understaffed restaurants and stressed-out managers put many workers in positions to take the brunt of everyone's frustration. 

Because of this, many restaurant staff left the industry, searching for more satisfying work with higher wages. The reality is, you can't get away with poor pay anymore. Workers know their value and want to be compensated accordingly.

It's no secret that the hospitality industry is labor intensive. Restaurant jobs require workers to be on their feet for long hours. Many suffer from injuries such as muscle strains and burns

Offering your employees a benefits package can give them peace of mind knowing their job won't cost them money should they get an acute or chronic injury.

Show Your Workers You Value Them

Happy workers are more productive and loyal to the company they work for. The restaurant industry is not immune to this fact. 

Since the pandemic, restaurant workers have made it clear they no longer want to be treated like a cog in a wheel. They know they are what keep those wheels turning. And they're no longer interested in showing up, robotically going about their workday, and repeating this routine day-in and day-out.

They want recognition as part of a valuable team. And showing your employees you value them will go a long way in letting them know you respect and appreciate them. It's a win all around as it will improve employee retention, and your staff will feel happy in their role. 

Send Engagement Surveys And Ask For Feedback

There's no better way to learn how your employees feel about their work and your restaurant than to ask. 

Sending employee engagement surveys is the best way to gauge the morale of your workers. They can offer perspective on the current mood and valuable insights into how to improve the work environment if morale is low. 

Ask your restaurant staff for feedback on operations, too. They know your customers better than anyone! Who better to ask about a menu update than those making and serving the food? 

Including your employees in essential company updates will let them know they aren't just a warm body. It will show them you recognize them as part of the team and appreciate their creative ideas. 

Your restaurant employees are your best resource for creating positive change, but it's critical that if you ask for feedback, you act on it. Your staff will lose faith in you if you ask and never do.

Offer Better Training

There's nothing like being thrown into the thick of things with little to no training. If your restaurant is full and you and your employees have been hustling at 150% for months, it doesn't excuse a lack of training for new hires

If your hiring strategy is on point and you manage to find new workers with years of experience, you might get away with minimal training. But expecting your restaurant employees to jump right in and stick around with limited training is like hoping for rain in the desert — it rarely happens. 

There are ways to improve training with less person-power, but never discount the staying-power of one-on-one training. You can supplement with technology that easily connects your new employees to the information they need to perform their job, including your mission and vision.

When workers feel empowered to do their job well, they will show up with confidence and a willingness to learn. 

Improve Company Culture

A toxic work environment is a fast lane to high employee turnover. Disengaged and unhappy workers can behave like invasive weeds, taking out everything in their path.

A restaurant that treats its employees fairly and respectfully will build a loyal team who enjoys their work and wants to do a good job. Improving company culture is a multi-step approach, but creating an environment people want to be in will drastically enhance employee retention. 

company cultureOne way to improve your restaurant culture is to build trust with your employees. You can accomplish this through transparent communication. Share company wins, struggles, significant changes (like menu updates or manager changeover), and other significant news with your staff.

Your employees want to be kept in the loop, and open and honest communication will strengthen your relationship with them and improve company culture.  

Allow For More Flexibility

Life is busy, and schedules can change quickly. Kids, dogs, family changes, doctor's appointments, you name it. Life is not linear, making it challenging to work at a restaurant with a rigid schedule and no flexibility.

Restaurant employees will be more inclined to work for a company that understands this and allows for more autonomy over work schedules. An advanced schedule helps arrange things like childcare and flexibility if a child is sick and needs a caregiver at home with them.

Remembering your workers are people with lives will encourage them to stick around. Most people want to work where they are treated like humans with individual human needs. 

Technology Can Help With restaurant Employee Retention

Restaurant managers and owners often complain that nobody wants to work anymore

But, the truth is, people want to work where they are valued, treated with respect, and feel connected to their company. Using technology like a texting tool can help accomplish this. 

goHappy is revolutionizing employee engagement through better communication, which leads to increased employee retention. 

The Texting Tool You Need

Don't be scared off by the word technology! goHappy is low-entry and designed so that anyone can use it. With goHappy you can quickly and easily send out company-wide text messages, employee engagement surveys and receive real-time feedback from your workers.

Keep track of messages and see deliverability metrics on your dashboard. You can even segment your restaurant workers, so the right people receive your messages. 

Out of avocados and need to give your kitchen staff the heads up? No problem, you can send out a mass text to just kitchen workers so you don't overwhelm your entire team with messages they don't need. 

Ready to find out how goHappy can help your restaurant employee retention? Schedule a demo now and learn more!

employee engagement

Dane Schwartz

Written by Dane Schwartz

Dane is an experienced marketing professional with more than 15 years under his belt and prides himself on being a unique blend of strategy and action. His experience ranges from enterprise organizations to small startups, and across numerous industries. As the former leader of Product Marketing at Snagajob, Dane is a storyteller who loves bringing brands and products to life and connecting with the end-user!