In 2018, The National Restaurant Association revealed that the restaurant staff turnover rate is at 74.9%. This data was followed a year after by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (2019) with a result of 78.9%, a slight increase compared to the most recent year (2020) with an overwhelming 130.7%. Certainly, turnover rates have rapidly become a general concern in the restaurant industry, especially amidst the COVID-19 pandemic when many restaurants have had a challenging time.
Many had to close their businesses early or permanently due to a slack off in sales and growing overheads while the cash flow remains stagnant. Others that are lucky enough to survive day by day are also confronted with staff absenteeism, and therefore lack of manpower, especially when workers get sick or are exposed to the Coronavirus disease. It is undeniably hard to keep the business afloat when it falls short of employees who are supposed to man the operations. Understanding the reasons for such high restaurant employee turnover rates is just the first step to alleviate it. Here are a few ways to boost your restaurant employee retention and thus create a better working environment.
- Boost your employees’ morale.
According to the World Health Organization (2020), the pandemic outbreak can cause fear, worry, and stress which is a normal response to situations when people are faced with uncertainty. This only puts mental health to a higher degree of importance and that business owners must show they care for their employees. You can do this by providing your staff with free or discounted meals, arranging a free shuttle service, or by simply talking to them one by one to check in on them.
- Make room for appreciative inquiry.
Appreciative inquiry is an approach to change that emphasizes the organization’s strengths rather than its weaknesses. Employees, like any other individuals, feel warm and appreciated when business owners recognize their efforts and small wins as opposed to their shortcomings or lapses. Instead of stressing the downtrend on sales, you can point out what worked well. Perhaps one of your products has been getting much more attention now than before. Choosing an employee of the month from feedback surveys can also change your retention rate positively.
- Encourage tipping and innovate your tipping methods.
While those who do not wait tables may have a hard time getting tips, lean on centralized tipping so that the accumulated tip pool can equally be distributed to all employees at the end of the day. Consider adding a creatively designed tip jar or you can elicit tips in kind. Know that tips do not always have to be monetary in form, it can be in a form of gift cheques or other items that can be useful for the person given. For your physical contact-conscious guests, you should have a tip line or a mobile wallet app that can let your guests transfer monetary tips from their phones.
- Occasionally, allow shift-choice leniency.
Let all of your staff members sit on shift assignments and have them be in control of their shift schedules. They can let each other know of their availability and foster a work culture of giving and taking. This is done believing that some staff members may be more productive in their chosen shifts. However, discourage your employees from choosing double shifts. They may not realize the physical and mental strain they can get just because they want to earn extra and take advantage of the heavy foot traffic during lunch and dinner shifts. Exhaustion, body pain, and fatigue can be absent themselves for future shifts.
- Give their schedules in advance.
Staff members get disheartened when they have to reschedule personal plans just because you notified them to work at the last minute. Encouraging everyone to practice having a work and life balance and giving their schedules in advance, at least two weeks, can provide them enough time to plan for leisure and work accordingly. As a business owner, avoid modifying their schedule so that loss of superior trust can be avoidable and they will reciprocate that by sticking true to their assigned work schedule.
- Start right with the proper foundation.
An employee onboarding process is a work in progress. As you orient your new employees with the importance of building a culture of trust in the workplace, brand and operations, they need to blend themselves in. All aspects of the job must be presented to them right away so they can have a strong foundation before being embedded into the team. Do not make the mistake of neglecting training. Staff members who did not go under proper and professional training tend to be unhappy with their transition. When you train them to be fully equipped for the responsibility, they will feel accomplished, supported and can do everything with minimal supervision, great ease and confidence.