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9 Employee Engagement Tips to Reduce Restaurant Staff Turnover

Marjorie Hajim | June 17, 2021 |

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9 Employee Engagement Tips to Reduce Restaurant Staff Turnover

In the restaurant industry, many employers prioritize their customer engagement strategy over employee engagement. But a lack of employee engagement leads to greater staff turnover. If you manage or own a restaurant, you may dismiss staff turnover as a normal part of the job. After all, the average time a restaurant employee stays in their role is just one month and 26 days

This doesn’t have to be the case at your restaurant.

In this article, you will discover how staff turnover affects restaurants and how employee engagement can reduce staff turnover. Read on for nine employee engagement tips that will lead to happier employees who stick around for longer.

How staff turnover affects restaurants

If employees spend less than two months at your restaurant, the constant hiring and training process is a pain. But there is a real cost to it, too. In the restaurant industry, the average cost of staff turnover per employee is $5,864. The costs of recruitment, hiring, training, and the lost productivity incurred by staff turnover quickly add up.

Turnover pie chart

Image Source

It’s not just the monetary cost of staff turnover that should concern you. High staff turnover will lower your quality of service. Staff can be overworked when picking up the slack in between hirings. 

High staff turnover can also mean you rarely have fully trained staff who know the ins and outs of your restaurant. And just as customers enjoy seeing regular faces at their favorite restaurants, employees are also happier working within a stable team. 

What is employee engagement?

How can you use employee engagement to reduce restaurant staff turnover? Let’s start with answering a question you may have: what is employee engagement? 

Employee engagement isn’t only about employee happiness or satisfaction (though these are important factors). Employee engagement asks, “how engaged are your employees with the business?” Improving employee engagement at your restaurant ensures your employees care about and are committed to your restaurant, its goals, and its values. 

The Aon Hewitt employee engagement model gives three core facets of employee engagement: Say, Stay, Strive.

Engagement table

Image Source

Say, Stay, Strive affects not only your employee’s engagement but also your customer satisfaction and loyalty. One study suggests that 86% of restaurants with higher employee engagement agreed that engaged employees are a vital factor for improving customer loyalty. 

How can you improve employee engagement at your restaurant? And how could it reduce your staff turnover?

This list of employee engagement tips for reducing restaurant staff turnover covers a variety of approaches — from smarter hiring processes to making the most of workplace technology such as a cloud app

9 ways you can improve employee engagement to reduce staff turnover

Communication is key.

You might talk with your employees every day, but that doesn’t mean that the lines of communication are fully open. Many employees don’t feel comfortable telling their managers that they are unhappy with their job or the way the business is running. So while you should encourage open and positive communication between all staff, don’t worry if your employees aren’t immediately forthcoming. 

A great way to get a sense of your staff’s concerns, wellbeing, and overall happiness at work is through employee satisfaction surveys. It comes as no surprise that satisfied employees who feel valued, listened to, and happy in their roles are more likely to stick around. Giving them the chance to anonymously express their mind about work will give you the opportunity to improve things for the better.

Use restaurant technology.

We live in the age of technology, so why not make the most of it for employee engagement? 

With private cloud hosting, you can create an accessible online cloud for you and your employees. This can be used for cashing up at the end of the day, keeping track of customers and reservations, or checking what needs to be restocked. A private cloud system will streamline work practices for you and your staff. 

Another way cloud technology can be used to improve employee engagement is by creating an app for your staff. This app could offer an informal space for employees to communicate, check schedules, and feel more connected to the workings of your restaurant. Creating an app can be an exciting process and one that your employees can get involved in. Don’t forget to carry out mobile app testing and catch any glitches early. 

Restaurant tech

Source: Unsplash

Involve your staff in the hiring process.

The high staff turnover rate at restaurants can make hiring feel like an endless process. 

You might wish you could clone your best employees. One way to improve the hiring process and improve your employee engagement is to set up an employee referral program. You know who your best staff members are and already trust their judgement, so encourage them to refer friends and reward them when it is successful. 

An employee referral program doesn’t just make hiring easier for you, it also gives your staff more agency in the restaurant and another opportunity to make their voices heard. 

Upgrade your training process.

Well-trained staff who feel confident in their roles from day one are better for business and less likely to quit. Upgrading your training and development processes is important if your restaurant experiences high turnover. But it can also improve your employee engagement and keep them on your team.

In 2020, the world moved online and many employees started working remotely. This, of course, isn’t the case for restaurants, but you can still leverage the improvements in technology as a tool for increasing employee engagement. Video conferencing offers an inexpensive and time-saving way to engage with your employees and provide remote training and development days.

Encourage time with customers.

Building customer relationships is not only good for your business, but it’s also good for your employees. Time spent interacting with customers will inspire your staff to strive in their roles.

Customer service is a key element to running a successful restaurant. You and your staff know this. But encouraging your staff to view customer interactions as a positive process not only for the customer but also for them will create a warmer and friendlier environment for everyone. 

Empower your staff to be social media advocates.

Many restaurants are already benefiting from social media. Lots of your customers use social media every day, and a strong social media presence can improve your customer engagement, loyalty, and offer cheap advertising. 

You can also use social media to improve employee engagement. Encouraging your staff to contribute to your restaurant’s social media will create a more authentic social media presence and improve your employees’ sense of belonging and pride. And employees trained in using marketing tools will have a stronger understanding of customer engagement and your restaurant’s goals and branding.

Food selfie

Use online schedules.

Restaurant staff appreciate flexible schedules that are easy to access. The simplest way to improve your scheduling, and improve employee engagement along the way, is to offer online scheduling. 

Online scheduling software makes it easier for employees to view and change their shifts. This flexibility not only creates happier employees, but also means scheduling problems and understaffing are less likely. 

An online schedule is another way that technology can improve employee engagement. If you’re already thinking of setting up an app for communication or using cloud software for training and development, you should consider consolidating your technology needs on one cloud app. 

Switching between lots of apps and servers could be a frustrating experience for your employees otherwise. One way to do this is to use FaaS (functions as a service) software, which will let you move all your applications into one cloud space.

Provide opportunities for growth.

Employees quit for a variety of reasons, but lack of opportunities for growth and development is a common complaint. Clear paths to higher-level jobs at your restaurant encourage staff to strive in their roles and feel a stronger connection to the business. 

Offering training and development for roles other than the ones your staff hold is another fantastic way to boost employee engagement. It may sound counter-intuitive to train your staff for roles outside of your restaurant, but many restaurant staff are young people and students who will not work for you forever. 

Investing in your staff and giving them a range of training opportunities will make your restaurant stand out amongst other employers and generate mutual respect and care between you and your staff. 

Offer higher wages for long-term staff.

The restaurant industry is known for its low pay. Unsurprisingly, this is a leading factor in staff turnover rates. One study suggests that 47% of waiters quit their last job due to low wages. 

An overall increase in wages will no doubt improve your staff turnover, but monetary rewards can also increase employee engagement. Offering increased wages for employees who work with you long-term, such as a yearly increase, or bonuses for top employees, will encourage your staff to continue working with you and strive in their roles. 

Final thoughts

Respecting your employees, paying them appropriately, and rewarding them for their successes are obvious ways to reduce restaurant staff turnover. 

Employee engagement, however, isn’t just about creating happy employees. It’s about creating employees who speak positively about work, care about your restaurant’s values and goals, and, importantly, are less likely to quit. 

Rewards, opportunities for growth, and making the most of restaurant technology will give your employees more agency within your business. And an employee who feels engaged and empowered will think twice before quitting. 

Author Bio:

marjorie-hajim (1)Marjorie Hajim

Marjorie Hajim is the SEO Manager for EMEA at RingCentral, a leading cloud computing infrastructure company that provides VoIP and video conferencing services. She develops and executes strategies for short-term and long-term SEO growth. In her spare time, she loves reading books at coffee shops and playing with her dogs.