5 Ways Restaurants Can Reduce Employee Turnover in 2021

This blog was written by our guest author, Brian Hassan, Co-CEO, Kickfin

For years, restaurant employers have struggled with high employee turnover rates. If they are able to find and attract qualified, dependable employees—a feat in and of itself—ensuring retention often poses the next challenge.
And it’s an expensive one. Recruiting, interviewing, onboarding and training candidates are non-revenue generating activities, and they take a lot of time. This doesn’t take into account the “softer” implications of dealing with employees coming through a revolving door, like the impact it has on relationships and company culture.
While the hospitality workforce, by nature, will always be more transient, restaurant operators do have the power to minimize turnover on their teams. Here are five ways employers can ensure that their most reliable, hardworking and talented employees stick around for the long haul.


1. Hire the right people.

This may seem obvious, but it’s one of the primary drivers behind turnover. If employees aren’t a good fit in terms of experience or culture, and if they don’t have the right qualifications, then they’re not going to last.
How do you hire the right people?

  • Get specific in your job description. Don’t assume candidates can read between the lines. Be clear about qualifications: How many years of experience do they need to have? What specific skill sets are required? Should they be familiar with a particular restaurant or service type—for example, fast food, quick service, or delivery? Outline both high-level and daily responsibilities, and include what success in the role looks like.

  • Don’t forget a company/culture description. Give candidates an idea of the type of company they’re joining. What are the performance and behavioral standards? What kind of personalities and character traits are going to fit with the team you’ve already established?

  • Ask the right questions. Get to know your candidate well. Ask questions not only about their resume and experience, but also who they are as people and what they’re hoping to get out of the job.

  • Sell the role: Remember that you’re in a competitive labor market, and candidates are likely exploring other positions. Is the team fun? Do you offer above-average pay or benefits? Will they get immediate access to their earnings? Is their schedule flexible?

  • Ask for references: Talk to previous employers or other references, no matter how credible your candidate appears to be.

Refining your hiring process might take extra time on the front end, but ultimately, it’s going to create a happier, healthier and more cohesive team.


2. Prioritize onboarding and training.

Once you’ve got the right people in place, set them up for success. Excellent onboarding can improve employee retention by 82%, according to research by Glassdoor.

Onboarding, of course, should go well beyond paperwork. Create a training plan or template for each type of new employee. As you go along, keep the lines of communication open. Schedule regular check-ins where employees can ask questions and share challenges or concerns before they grow into issues that feel insurmountable.
Keep in mind: Training shouldn’t end when employees are no longer new. As things change—whether it’s your menu, your policies and workflows, your technology or your organization chart—prioritize ongoing training. That way, everyone stays aligned around responsibilities and expectations, and they’re more likely to be happy and confident in their roles.


3. Stay competitive with compensation.

Compensation is a major perk of a job that can be mentally, physically and emotionally demanding.
COVID-19 made instant payments harder. More diners are using credit cards to pay for their meals, and that means restaurants have less cash on hand to pay out tips. As a result, they’re continuing to lose employees to gig economy jobs, such as Uber and Instacart, where workers get paid instantly.
Bottom line: Restaurant employees need, expect and deserve to get their tips immediately after their shift. If cash shortages are making that hard to do, leverage a digital tipping solution that will make your tip distribution processes more efficient and remove barriers between employees and the money they earned.


4. Foster your employees’ well-being.

There are a number of ways to be a good steward of your employees’ physical, financial and mental health.

  • Some restaurant employers offer insurance to employees, which is another competitive differentiator in a restaurant’s compensation package.

  • If that’s not feasible, offering other perks, like PTO or flexibility around scheduling, can keep employee satisfaction high.

  • Take their financial security seriously: Again, ensure they have immediate, unfettered access to their tips.

  • Keep them healthy by enforcing sanitization/cleaning guidelines. Require customers to play by the rules, too.

  • Don’t neglect culture. Recognize a job well done, create opportunities for team-building, and align your people around a shared vision and values.

5. Build relationships.


Cultivate relationships with your people. Take time to get to know them, and encourage your managers to do the same with the employees they’re managing.
Remember: While this might be a gig that’s just filling a gap for them, it could also be an important chapter in a lifelong hospitality career. If you have the opportunity to be a leader they admire or a mentor that inspires them, take it, as this will establish mutual trust, respect and loyalty.

Restaurant turnover shouldn’t be a given
Hospitality employers often think of high turnover as a cost of doing business—but they shouldn’t. By taking time to refine their recruiting processes and elevating the employee experience, restaurant operators can significantly increase employee retention and reap the benefits that satisfied, fulfilled employees will bring to the table.
About Kickfin
Kickfin is the only way to instantly deposit tips into employees’ bank accounts the second their shift ends—24/7/365. We eliminate the hassle, hidden costs, and health hazards of paying out tips in cash, so your people stay safe while still receiving their earnings in real time. Reach out to Kickfin for more information.

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