How to Reduce Restaurant Staff Turnover
Developing a loyal and devoted staff may seem like an afterthought, compared to everything else that running a successful restaurant entails. But even without realizing it, every time a staff member leaves, your bottom line is affected by the expense of recruiting, hiring, and training new workers. To prevent this type of drain on your profits, the trick is planning a long-term strategy for lowering your employee departure rate, while at the same time increasing the efficiency level of your business and its financial results.
High Turnover = Lower Revenue
According to restaurant statistics, the turnover rate for employees in the restaurant sector averages about 62.6%, compared to 42.2% in the overall private sector. Even more alarming, the cost of hiring an hourly employee can total more than $3,500 when you factor in the entire hiring process. In other words, staffing your restaurant is an investment, and, when part of that investment walks out the door, your bottom line will take a direct and debilitating hit.
Employees leave jobs every day for a variety of reasons. A restaurant is a high-stress environment that offers relatively lower pay rates; and together, these two factors can lead to employee burnout. However, with time and effort, this situation can be remedied.
Hire the Best Employees You Can Find
The person who you interview, who you think of as “just good enough,” may not be the right person for the position. Don’t worry about hiring an over-qualified employee; aim for that outstanding candidate, and you’ll reap the rewards. Patience in the hiring process is important. Consider not only the potential workers’ qualifications and skills, but also envision how they’ll fit in with your existing team.
When you look at the resumes of applicants, check whether they have a history of frequently changing jobs. Also, don’t get lazy when it comes to references, even for non-management positions or jobs that you may deem menial. This means tracking down and calling old supervisors, and not just the ones listed on the CV. Pay attention and give serious thought to negative references, as well.
Raises and Rewards Go a Long Way
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One of the top five reasons employees leave their jobs is for a better-paying position somewhere else, therefore you are more likely to retain your best workers if you offer them better-than-average wages at the outset. Even more important, conduct regular performance reviews and offer raises at those times as well. Even small increases can lower turnover rates.
You can also increase your retention rate by offering rewards. An Employee of the Month program, for instance, is a great way to incentivize your employees. Involve your staff in the process: in a team meeting, plan the goals and decide on the incentives. Base the rewards on positive customer comments or feedback cards, sales performance, comments from co-workers, and overall performance.
Training – and Cross-Training
As soon as you hire a new employee, provide him or her with a comprehensive orientation program, and give them all the information they’ll need for the job. Give every new staff member a job description, training manual, and employee’s handbook. Give them time to familiarize themselves with your restaurant, your style of doing business, your expectations of them as employees, and your requirements. As time goes on, providing your employees with on-going training will show that you care about them and respect their contribution to your business. Learning more about their jobs – and understanding the importance that their position has in the overall scheme of the restaurant’s operation – will boost your employees’ self-confidence and self-esteem. Your employees will be less likely to leave you if they feel important and appreciated.
You’ll also be able to create a more efficient work force if they are cross-trained. Cross-training will provide your staff members with new skills in areas other than their own, such as food prep, customer service, and marketing. It can help your employees feel valued, and let them know that you trust them to do a multitude of tasks. When you teach new skills and continue to support old ones, you’ll boost your restaurant employees’ confidence, making them feel more invested in their jobs and less likely to leave.
Promoting Employees from Within
Every employee should have the potential and opportunity for advancement if desired. Keep your eyes and ears open: You may become aware of the server who wants to become a shift manager, or a dishwasher who wants to move up to line cook. Giving workers the opportunity to grow is good for them and, ultimately, good for you. Take into consideration, and capitalize on, your employee’s strengths. Think about their performance and their interests and offer training as a path to advancement. If, for instance you have non-English speaking employees who show leadership potential, pay for English classes. This can enable some of your employees to climb the ladder to management positions.
Give Plenty of Thought to Scheduling
Rearranging your staff’s work schedules can also help increase employee retention. If your staff is grumbling about too many or not-enough hours, take note and take action. Think about the needs of your restaurant, and take into consideration the size of your staff and the needs of your employees. Make sure your employees are working the number of hours that they want to. Increase hours when someone wants to work more (and needs some extra money); while at the same time, give your about-to-be-burnt-out restaurant manager, who regularly works 60-hour weeks, a break.
Communication is Key
Handling conflict may be one of your toughest tasks as a restaurant owner or manager. You have to ensure your team cooperates and works well together despite differences or conflicts. Read up on mediation tactics to increase your skills so you will be prepared to deal with any circumstances. Nurture your employees. Coach them and provide constructive feedback and positive reinforcement.
Periodically survey your staff, keeping the surveys anonymous for the best feedback. Ask tough questions about workplace issues, morale, or tension between workers. Try to do this a few times a year to nip problems in the bud and to show your staff that you care. Listen to, and communicate with, your staff and make sure to take the time to ask questions that show you value your employees. Take their feedback seriously and implement their suggestions. Promote healthy communication by holding regular staff meetings with your entire staff. Employee turnover increases when employees are under-appreciated for all of their hard work; inversely, happy and valued staff are more loyal and likely to remain faithful to their employers.
Unfortunately some of your employees will still end up leaving, and it’s important to find out why. Have an exit interview when employees leave your restaurant. Asking for this feedback may uncover some changes that you need to make to retain your staff.
Keeping Turnover to a Minimum
Employee turnover can be expensive and disruptive to operations; it makes the job of managing a restaurant even more of a challenge than it already is. To combat this, train new employees in a way that they will truly understand all aspects of your business, and continue that training throughout their employment. Show your appreciation and take good care of your employees. These are the keys to having lower turnover rates and a happier, more productive team.