Employee Retention for Restaurants

coffee barista

What makes a server stay at one restaurant vs. look for work elsewhere? We interviewed a server, Kenzie, at a popular downtown restaurant to find out!

Question: What made you choose to work at the restaurant you are currently employed at?

Answer: “The company and the bosses are super nice and willing to talk to me like I’m their equal instead of talking down to me.”

Question: When you first got hired, how did your bosses and other employees treat you?

Answer: “My coworkers and people training me were very helpful in my learning process and were extremely patient with me. They really took the time to help me succeed.”

Question: What kinds of things would make you not want to work at a specific restaurant?

Answer: “Well I would hate to work at a restaurant that was super disorganized and didn’t have any procedures in place. I would also not like to work at a restaurant where I did not have positive relationships with my boss or coworkers.”

In the restaurant industry, Toast lists that 59% of restaurant owners name staffing as their biggest challenge. The average employee stays 1 month and 26 days.

Actually, maintaining a talented, engaged staff is one of the biggest challenges facing every type of business, not just food service. So what can you do to make your employees want to stay at your company?

  1. Train to retain: You can help reduce staff turnover by offering newly-hired employees meaningful development opportunities and training. Besides higher compensation and better benefits, career development and training opportunities are the top benefits desired by workers, according to a study done by WorkForce 2020.
  2. Add benefits: Benefits you could offer you employees include flexible work hours, dental/vision coverage, vacation time, employee discounts, work-from-home options, and generous parental leave. Not all companies can offer the same benefits as others, so choose benefits that fit your situation.
  3. Create connections: Take time to develop relationships with your employees and offer social outings/team bonding events for your employees to get to know each other. Employees are more likely to stay at a job if they like their boss and coworkers!
  4. Let them co-lead: Create a culture where employees feel free to speak up without fear of retribution. Employees often have great ideas for improving the work environment or customer experience.
  5. Show appreciation: Regularly show top-performing employees that you appreciate their efforts. This can be a recognition program, service anniversary celebrations, bonuses, or simply positive reinforcement like a note saying, “Good job on x!”