Something that often gets overlooked in a nice restaurant, a fun pub, or a hoppin’ pizzeria is the staff behind the scenes that makes everything run smoothly. Retaining staff in the foodservice industry can be very challenging, but it is such an important part of the business. Based on a study at Cornell University, replacing a single employee costs $5,864. Some may remember the Great Resignation of 2021, where the foodservice industry lost over one million workers - restaurant owners definitely don’t want to see that happen again. In this post we’ll talk about ways to help retain foodservice employees.
- Show Me the Money. We are all here to make a living, and it’s important to stay competitive in pay and benefits if you want to keep talented employees on staff. While offering less pay will initially cost save you money, remember how much it costs to replace a single employee. Replacing employees time and time again due to low pay will end up costing you more in the long run to try to hire and train new staff. Do your research and find out what other employers are doing in the industry. Try to find out their benefit plan, if they offer additional perks such as paid time off, a free meal, bonus incentives, attendance performance, etc. You’d be surprised at how small things can add up and keep employees happy.
- Training and Development. Outlining a defined, structured program will provide new employees with a set of tools they need to succeed in their role while not adding pressure to your current staff to do extra training that could be found elsewhere. Developing a training manual for each position is a great way to get started. The training manual can include everything from procedures and safety guidelines to recipes and customer service tips. Having training and development ready for new employees shows you are committed to their growth and success within the company.
- Culture. Creating a positive and supportive culture is vital for employee retention. Employees want to feel valued, appreciated and respected. Just as an employer would want respect from an employee, employees expect the same in return. Be on time for interviews, show new employees around the restaurant on their first day, acknowledge birthdays and significant life events. Employees who feel part of a team will stay with you longer than those who feel like they are just a number. Work-life balance is also extremely important this day in age. The foodservice industry isn’t exactly known for easy, set schedules, but offering flexible schedules and being mindful of employee’s time off requests can contribute to a better work-life balance.
- Growth Opportunities. Employees are more than likely to stick around if there is a path of progression or opportunities to develop their skills and advance their careers. Keep employees motivated with onsite education or e-learning courses where employees can learn a new skill. Keep the door open for other opportunities such as shift-leads or management positions. Employees who have goals for themselves will stay for the long haul if they are able to see an opportunity for their goals to be achieved.
- Work Environment. How is the environment? Is it safe, clean, and healthy? Or is it dirty, unsafe, and toxic? Be sure it’s safe, clean, and healthy. Ensure you’re following appropriate health and safety codes, not only for the benefit of the business, but for the safety of your employees. People want to come to work in a safe, healthy, and fun atmosphere. Eliminate or fix physical hazards, including employees who cause unwanted issues or stress.
- Ask for Feedback. Feedback is not only for paying customers. Employees like to be heard – and heard without fear of retaliation or judgement. Ask your team for suggestions on how to make the restaurant and work environment better. What can the employers do to be more engaged with the staff? How to make their job easier or how to make it more inviting to come into work every day. Anonymous platforms such as Google Forms will likely generate a greater response, as people will be able to express their opinions more open and honest if they know it’s anonymous. Conducting exit interviews with departing employees is also a great way to get feedback. Find out reasons they are leaving and what could have been done differently during their time with the company. Any insight you can get from employees at any time is beneficial.
By keeping these things top of mind, managers can work towards creating a work environment that employees will feel proud to be a part of and will want to stay working at for a long period of time.