Restaurants: How to Keep Your Best Employees

Keep Your Best Employees

Invest in your employees today to increase productivity and job satisfaction.

According to a recent study performed by a team of economists, happy employees are more productive. In fact, happy employees are approximately 12% more productive than unhappy employees.

What does this mean for your restaurant? It is a clue to unlocking the secret of how to keep your best employees. When your best employees are happier, you’ll see higher productivity. (tweet this) Your restaurant won’t sacrifice quality in the process because happy employees work more effectively.

Hiring and training new employees is an expensive proposition: the Sasha Corporation averaged the results of 15 studies that determined the average costs to replace an $8 per hour employee. They determined the average cost was $9,444.47 per turnover. This is a staggering statistic.

Let’s add another fact – one most restaurant owners know: many restaurant employees don’t typically plan on a long-term career in the food service industry. With these two thoughts in mind, let’s take a look at some of the ways you can keep your best employees, reduce employee turnover and make your restaurant a great place to work and eat.

Now is the time to take action and invest in your employees…

Open the Door

Create an open-door atmosphere. Make sure your employees are free to offer their feedback without fear of reprisal. Employees who have time to stew about their problems and feel like they have to remain silent tend to stir up trouble.

Eliminate this problem before it ever happens. Attend to your employees, listen to them and strive for compromise when problems arise. Remember…happy employees = the best employees who stay.

Employee happiness soars when management is approachable and responsive. Since your employees spend a large amount of their week at your restaurant, encourage their voice. Solicit their feedback so they don’t feel voiceless.

Pay Employees Fairly

When all is said and done, at the end of the week, it’s the pay that matters. You may follow all of our suggestions, your employees may be happy and love their jobs, but the bottom line is they are working for you to earn a living. Smart owners pay well.

Nearly one-third of employees who leave will leave for better pay. Offer competitive wages so they aren’t tempted. Additionally, offer raises when your best employees show consistently great productivity. Even small increases can encourage your best employees to stay.

Create a Stay Interview

You’ve probably conducted your share of exit interviews when your restaurant employees leave, and this is a good tool for increasing retention. Recently, some restaurants have started asking their best employees why they stay.

There’s no reason to wait until your employees leave to ask them questions. Sit down with your best and longest-working employees one by one and ask them how they feel about your restaurant and working for you.

Not only do you open the door for increased communication, but you let your employees know you care about them and their ideas. Take their feedback and create actionable items. Continue what they like and strive to improve on the negative.

This process encourages your best employees to stay and lets newer ones know you value their work and their opinion.

Communicate Well

Have a big event on Saturday night, but you forget to tell your employees? Even if they didn’t need to prepare for it, communication is always key.

Many restaurant employees complain that they don’t know what’s going on. Besides the day-to-day information, your employees will feel more connected to your restaurant if you include them in your long-range plans. You might even try brainstorming ideas with them. Since they are on the front lines, they just might have helpful ideas.

Hold frequent staff meetings. Greet each of your employees daily and talk with them for a few minutes. Make sure your employees feel part of your restaurant’s success.

Frequent, effective communication is another way to keep your best employees. (tweet this)

Happy Wait Staff

Communication and fun are key to a successful work environment.

Resolve Conflicts Quickly

The success of your restaurant team has a direct effect on your bottom line. You’ll have better luck keeping your best employees if you resolve conflicts quickly and effectively. Don’t let problems simmer. Make sure you stay neutral while negotiating a compromise or solution to the problem.

Ensure that employees know how you’ll resolve conflicts immediately after you hire them. You don’t want any surprises in an already tenuous situation. Employee manuals are the ideal place to mention your strategy for conflict resolution.

Make Your Workplace Fun

That doesn’t mean the day is all fun and games and cheesy rallies. This means encouraging people to be themselves at work.

Remember earlier when we noted happy employees are the most productive? Inject some fun into your week, allow for times of laughter and games. This renews your employees and reduces stress.

Your best employees won’t stay long if the culture of your restaurant is cold, mechanical and stifling. Inject fun and freshness into your management style, and you’ll find you’re keeping your best employees longer.

Consider Benefits

Are there other “monetary” reasons besides pay that encourage your best employees to stay? Yes.

You can consider traditional benefits such as a health plan and childcare, but these benefits are often cost prohibitive for restaurants. So, let’s think outside the box a bit.

  • How about a membership to a fitness center? Negotiate lower rates with your local center or discuss a bartering arrangement.
  • Free Lunch Fridays sounds rewarding. Offer your employees a free lunch on Fridays. Gather them around your biggest table and let them have fun (during your off hours).

Offering a few perks leads to increased loyalty and encourages your employees to go the extra mile during work hours.

Offer Ongoing Training

Whether your employees are part-time or full-time, ongoing training is vital to keeping your best employees. Day one should include orientation and all the necessary information your staff needs to do their job well.

For your best employees who’ve been with you awhile, offer ongoing training in areas specific to their job such as marketing, customer service and food preparation. In addition, offer your best employees training that increases their responsibility and is new to them.

Your best employees will stick around longer if they feel knowledgeable and secure in their jobs.

Provide Advancement Avenues

From the first interview, your employees should know the advancement potential at your restaurant. After they’ve worked for you for a while, take note of their particular interests and talent. Offer training programs that include advancement – for example, a route for hostesses to become servers.

Advancement opportunities are another avenue for encouraging your best employees to stay at your restaurant.

The Take-Away

Invest in your best employees. Encourage their communication, feedback and ideas. Let them know you are available and open. Your best employees are happy employees, and that leads directly to better performance and higher restaurant profits.

Do you have any tips for keeping your best employees? Have you increased employee retention? We’d love to hear your comments. Post below!

Images: Aleksandr Slyadnev and David Tan

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