How to Turn New Employees Into Longterm Employees and Reduce Turnover

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With millions of people employed in the restaurant industry, finding good help is not easy. Due to the fact that many restaurant jobs require few skills, it’s easy to see why people flock to restaurants for extra or even full-time income.


Unfortunately, the sheer number of restaurant jobs available means that it’s easy for workers to switch jobs on a whim, something that costs employers and restaurant owners millions of dollars in rehiring and training employees on a regular basis.


It may seem impossible to keep employees long term in an industry that doesn’t foster it, but there are things you can do to minimize turnover while saving money.


Look Over Your Hiring Process. Since many restaurant jobs are easy and require little training, it’s easy to pick the first few people in the door to wait tables, wash dishes, or even cook and prepare food.


While no one wants to sit through interview after interview to hire the right host, it’s important to pick the right candidates from the start. In general, teenagers and college students will not be long term employees, and will also not have a lot of experience. Hiring culinary arts graduates has plenty of benefits, but come at a higher cost. Check references, look for candidates with at least some restaurant experience, and make sure the job requirements are clear as day before anyone starts work. A lot of poor performance issues stem from a misunderstanding of the job duties before starting.


If you don’t have someone in charge of training your employees well, you need to fix that. Proper training ensures happy, long term employees.

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Pay As Much as You Can. Payroll is one of your biggest expenses, so it seems like a no-brainer to cut back when you can. Unfortunately, paying your employees the bare minimum means you will more than likely have a hard time keeping people on.


Of course, rate of pay isn’t the only factor that motivates people to stay at a job, but it is probably the most important. No matter how much someone likes their job, if they can’t pay their bills comfortably, they will eventually leave, especially if your competitors are paying more. Even a dollar an hour can make a huge difference to an hourly employee. You should also make sure your tipped employees are doing well.


Show Your Appreciation. Many people will only stick to a job so long if they aren’t feeling like they’re appreciated, so keep this in mind. This doesn’t mean you have to constantly fawn over your employees — you are paying them after all — but you should remember that a restaurant can’t operate without servers and hosts and cooks and dishwashers. You need your employees just as much as they need you, and saying it, or better showing it, once in awhile goes a long way.


Some ways to show this are easy: free meals and discounts, flexibility when it comes to scheduling, and a well equipped break room all go a long way. Even better, take your staff out to a nice restaurant or activity once in awhile. And of course, simply saying the words “thank you” when a staff member goes out of the way can be worth more than any of these things.

Screen Shot 2016-06-10 at 2.36.56 PMPhoto Courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons


Create a Family Environment. While you don’t want your employees slacking on the job because they are socializing, having a close knit group of employees can benefit your business in a big way. First of all, when everyone gets along well and likes each other, they are more likely to work as a team, which means the work gets done more efficiently. You can feel confident that if an employee needs to call in sick, a friend will cover without resentment.

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Learn to Be a Good Boss. Anyone that has ever had a job knows that most employees don’t quit jobs, they quit bosses. A bad boss can drag down an entire organization, and often it only takes one employee to quit to send the whole group packing.


Being a good boss is not always easy, but it is beneficial. There are several traits that good bosses have: They communicate well, they lead by taking action, and they are willing to get their hands dirty if they have to. Yelling (especially in front of other employees, or worse, customers) irrational behavior, and expecting too much are all things that will send even well paid employees to another job.


A good boss knows what is going on in the restaurant. This means coming in even if you don’t have to, and it means getting to know your employees. Be genuine in taking care of your staff; most people can sense when someone is not being real; this is especially true of someone in a position that they’re prone to distrust from the start. It may take time to build solid relationships with your staff, but it’s worth it in the long run.

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Manage Your Expectations. A good employee does their job well, doesn’t complain, and doesn’t slack off. Even the best employees can only do so much, though, and in an industry that is constantly busy, it’s easy to expect one employee to be able to do the job of two or more. This is especially true when times are tough.


Promote Good Employees. No one wants to stay in a job that doesn’t go anywhere, even hourly employees. The next time you need a assistant manager, instead of posting on job sites, take a look at your current staff and see if any of them fit the bill. If one of your employees is doing really well, consider creating a position, such as lead bartender or shift supervisor. You’ll have a much happier staff if they know they can move ahead. Also, when employees know their hard work will get them promotions and such, they are much harder workers.


Hiring good employees is not easy; in fact, it’s probably one of the biggest headaches of any business owner. Employee turnover is a real problem, but it doesn’t have to be if you take the proper steps to manage it.


How do you deal with employee turnover? Share your stories!

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