Retain Restaurant Staff with these 8 Tips
Hiring and staffing are one of your biggest challenges. In fact, according to a 2017 Restaurant Success Report, restaurant owners tend to see them as two of the biggest factors hindering restaurant success. Our challenge to you: begin to retain restaurant staff and turn this statistic around.
Your staff can be one of your biggest assets in making your restaurant flourish. Here’s how to retain the people you want, the people you need, and the people who like to work for you.
How to Retain Restaurant Staff
1 – Find your own weak spots.
Improving restaurant staff begins with the leadership. First thing’s first: find your trouble spots and know where to focus. Take note for a day, a week, a month. Ask employees and managers for feedback on how well you succeed at the tips below. Do staff get enough clarity on expectations? Do they get enough motivating challenge? Flexibility when needed? Are they paid enough? Answer these questions, and if admission is truly the first step to recovery, you’re well on your way to better staff retention.
2 – Be clear about who you want.
This is crucial. Be clear about who you want working in your restaurant, and only go after those people. If you do not have standardized practices for hiring and ideal employee profiles, or you “technically” do, but don’t use them in a pinch, now is the time to get disciplined. Implement them. The more people you hire carelessly, the more it will ultimately cost you in time, trouble, and revenue and the more difficult it will be to retain restaurant staff.
3 – Be clear about what you want.
Be clear about what you want from your staff. Do they understand the mission and vision of your restaurant, from the sous chef to the dishwasher to the maître d’? And do they understand how their particular role contributes to the whole? Staff stay when they’re part of a bigger picture and clear on how they fit. And you’re able to communicate and check in on progress much more smoothly when expectations are clear from the start. Finally, be sure to set regular performance reviews employees can depend on, rather than trying to give major feedback or correction only catch-as-catch-can.
4 – Provide staff-wide challenges.
Set up fun daily, weekly, or monthly competitions for sales, customer ratings, or getting people to try a new dish or drink, for example. Keep it light, post results, and give rewards. Get a little goofier or outrageous with your challenges during holiday seasons. Mix it up, and keep it fun. You can also issue staff-wide challenges that call the whole staff to work together toward a particular goal, which is then rewarded staff-wide—an in-house wine-tasting, a party, a bonus, etc.—once that goal is met. Here you’re helping build relationships and teamwork, too.
5 – Provide personal challenges.
You will notice staff who might need an extra push to find their feet. But find staff who you can start encouraging to step up as leaders in their own right, by setting examples, meeting personal goals, or developing a more robust career in the food industry. “You’re doing great. I want to see if you can…” or “I like what I see so far. Would you like to try to meet the goal of…” might be good ways to start these conversations.
To make it easier to retain restaurant staff, always continue to offer further staff training when you can in different areas. Employees who know you’re invested in their performance and success are more likely to be invested themselves. In other words, show employees a path to advancement.
6 – Be flexible.
You want employees to enjoy working for you, which encourages real retention. Part of that is a healthy work-life balance. Learning how to compartmentalize work and not let it spill over into the rest of life helps employees lower stress, prioritize family and friends, and can increase productivity and satisfaction at work. Sometimes you need urgently improved performance. Sometimes your employees need you to cut them a break. Sometimes you need to push. Sometimes life outside work takes precedence. Be willing and open to communicate with employees to negotiate when they need space to juggle life and work in a healthier way.
7 – Ask employees what they need.
This is one of the best moves you can make to retain restaurant staff: ask employees about what they’ve loved about working at other places, and what they’d love to find working for you. You might be surprised the keys to staff performance and happiness you discover here that wouldn’t otherwise have guessed. What do your employees value most in a workplace? What do they value in a restaurant setting? You’ll discover answers from “relationships” or “kindness,” to practical solutions like better health insurance options, comfortable uniforms, or easier scheduling software. Explore and find out.
8 – Pay generously.
An excellent worker who doesn’t get paid what they deserve may start looking for appreciation elsewhere. Pay employees as generously as you can to retain restaurant staff. Try adding back-of-house fees or standardized suggested tips into your payment system. Raise minimum salary. Grant employees shares in the company and make them part owners. Explore options for better health insurance coverage or more generous vacation days.
Examine places you might be able to cut corners so that you can offer the best compensation packages possible. We know it’s tight. And revenue keeps your doors open. But the flourishing work environment where that money is made comes from retaining the best staff you can and giving them a generous, humane environment to work in.
To retain staff, clarity and challenge need to balance with flexibility and personal connection. To help you keep that balance, Original Review offers the only real-time customer feedback survey platform, so you can keep up with how your service and operations are doing. Track the progress of your restaurant and the performance of your waitstaff all day, every day. Want to give it a shot? Try a free demo.