7 Tips for Reducing Employee Churn At Your Restaurant

You work hard to hire the right people at your restaurant, so it’s frustrating when you are constantly losing good employees on a regular basis.

In order to cut down on the time you spend training new team members, you need to follow some of the best practices for reducing employee churn at your restaurant.

We asked around to discover the best ways to minimize employee turnover, and have gathered the seven best tips in this post.

1. Show Gratitude

Restaurant employees sometimes feel underappreciated for the work they do, which can impact your employee retention rate. It’s important to take the time to recognize the hard work your team members do, and to praise them for a job well done. A simple “thank you” can go a long way, but if you take the time to focus on each employee as an individual, that demonstration of appreciation can mean much, much more.

Heidi Bender, an employee appreciation expert, said, “Thank your employees often when they do good work. The key is to thank them for something specific. If you really want to stand out, give them a handwritten thank-you note.”

This expression of gratitude is good for you as a restaurant manager, too. A study noted in the New York Times showed that those who express gratitude often experience better sleep, feel less anxiety, and have higher overall satisfaction within their lives.

2. Involve Your Team

Since your employees are the one working with customers and have a direct impact on the success (or failure) of your restaurant, they have interesting insights on the business. That being said, it’s a good idea to ask for their feedback. Make time for your team to come together as a group and brainstorm on how to improve everything from overall dining experience to addressing recurring issues.

Kelly Fisher, who works in restaurant financing, said, “Ask for your employees’ insight. The more they feel connected to the business, the more likely they will become invested and stay.”

Research shows that businesses with engaged employees are two times more likely to be successful, so it’s clear that team involvement and higher profits go hand in hand. Remember that top-down communication isn’t always best within this setting; you need an ongoing, two-way conversation to boost employee engagement.

3. Focus on a Collaborative Culture

No one wants to work at a place where culture isn’t a priority. Not only does it lead to negative feelings, uninterested employees, and sub-par work, but it’s an indicator of poor management, too. While the restaurant business is often hectic, make time to focus on a positive workplace culture that puts an emphasis on collaboration, idea-sharing, and communication.

Rob Edell, Founder of Servy, said, “Create a collaborative culture in which everyone feels that they are a part of one cohesive unit. A restaurant has so many moving parts that link together, so it’s imperative to praise the entire team for the successes and hold everyone accountable for the failures. This will result in greater employee satisfaction and a more successful restaurant, both of which reduce churn.”

Our data shows that nearly 2 in 3 employees feel they do not have a strong work culture and that nearly half are dissatisfied with their supervisors–which means that in most instances, culture needs to be placed as a high priority item moving forward.

4. Focus on Ongoing Employee Development

It’s not enough to conduct an initial training session with your restaurant team–you need to invest in on-going employee training to show that you truly see value in the team you’ve hired. Regular education means you value your team’s development and helps create buy-in from your team.

Cayla Fuentes, a restaurant manager in California, said, “Avoiding team member turnover can be as simple as constantly coaching, teaching, and developing employees. It is also critical to be involved in their training process from the very beginning, as a manager, so they are aware of how involved you are and can develop the level of expectation you hold to them.”

The numbers don’t lie: 40 percent of employees who get little (or no) on-the-job training leave within the first year (which means you spend more time training each time someone leaves.) Keep employees engaged within their roles by giving them regular opportunities to expand their skills and grow into better, more effective team members.

5. Make Your Interview Hands-On

Interviewing and hiring the right team members is the first step toward better, more long-term relationships with employees. But that usually means re-evaluating your current process. Rather than conducting the standard interview, think about giving potential hires a test run to see how they perform in action.

Autumn Pruitt of Aromas Coffeehouse said, “A couple of years ago we began including a hands-on component to our interview process.  If the first interview goes well, we schedule applicants to spend two hours with a manager behind the coffee counter or in the kitchen.  It provides the opportunity to see first-hand if someone is personable, a self-starter, a problem solver, able to follow instructions, etc. It also allows them to see if the job and work environment meets their expectations before adding someone to payroll and going through the training process. This step has helped us to hire better and has drastically reduced turnover.”

A hands-on trial helps you and your current team gauge how the interviewee fits with the team and interacts with customers. If you can spot any red flags before hiring someone new, you’ll spend less time sorting out problems and more time commending a job well done.

If you’re looking for hiring/interviewing resources, we have a whole section devoted to that.

6. Give Regular Feedback

Giving feedback, both negative and positive, helps your employees get a realistic grasp on how they’re doing at work. Without it, they don’t know what you really think about their overall performance. Make time for regular employee evaluations, or at least try to touch base with each team member once every three to six months.

Randi Busse, who works in workforce development, said, “Employee turnover in restaurants can be reduced by providing feedback and coaching to your employees on how they are doing and how they can improve.”

Need a template for standardized hourly employee performance reviews? Look no further.

7. Incentivize Your Team

Incentives can be powerful motivators that help your employees get invested in the restaurant’s overall success. Whether it’s a bonus for reaching a specific sales goal, or a team-wide celebration, giving you team something to work towards means taking a strategic approach to achieving objectives.

Business coach Jennifer Martin said, “Offer everyone on staff a bonus if the restaurant hits its annual goals for growth. This way everyone can directly impact the success of your business and share the wealth when you succeed. It is also a great incentive to keep people until the year is up. When I ran my restaurant, I started this as a “contest” on February 1st of each year. This helped me keep staff on board through the busy catering season from Thanksgiving to Super Bowl Sunday.”

Rewarding a job well done means everyone wins. Think about using everything from “Employee of the Month” type incentives as well as time off or monetary rewards, and do some testing to see which are most appealing for your employees (and watch employee morale soar.)

Take this advice on reducing employee churn from people who work closely with the issue each and every day, and remember to make it a priority as you move forward this year. These small adjustments to your management style can mean more sales, less time spent training new team members, and fewer conflicts from within.

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