Outside Insights | August 2017 | By Guest Author

5 Tips to Reduce Employee Turnover in Your Restaurant

What are the driving motivators for employees to change jobs, and what can you do to improve employee retention?
Great employees are critical to your business. But how do you keep them from leaving? flickr: Chris Pople
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Your employees are your business. They greet and serve your customers, they open and close the shop, they handle the money, and they work alongside you in the kitchen. Each night, they leave, and each morning, you hope they come back. 

There are a lot of other employers that would love to hire your employees. In the city of Houston, there are around 650 job postings a day just on Craigslist for hourly workers. In Los Angeles, there are 800. Each day. You’ve got to ensure that your employees are happy, or they might look elsewhere. So what are the driving motivators for employees to change jobs, and what can you do to improve employee retention?

1. Create flexible working hours

There’s a lot of chatter about millennials and how to manage them. Over two-thirds of all service-industry employees are under 35 years old, and three out of 10 are between ages 19 and 26. Often, they’re students balancing inconsistent study schedules or people working multiple jobs. Millennials value flexibility, and being flexible to your employees’ personal obligations when building a schedule will greatly improve their satisfaction. Better yet, provide them the ability to give input into their start and end times.

2. Be consistent

Recently, Reuters profiledan employee at McDonald’s whose work hours fluctuate almost weekly, which is a common practice now getting attention. Last-minute changes can make income and life unpredictable for workers, and is now getting attention from politicians in states like Oregon and New York.  Creating consistent weekly schedules, weeks in advance, is a big win if you’re looking to improve employee retention. Look for a software provider that enables you to create reusable scheduling templates, can inform your employees of their schedule weeks in advance, and can enable them to submit requests for time off or trade a shift with a colleague.

3. Offer training

Professional development is a powerful way of keeping employees happy and productive. Can you offer your employees training in some new skills? Can they work in another department one day a week, or move over entirely, in order to see a new part of the business? Is there a relevant seminar or class they want to take that might also improve their work? Think outside the box, and you’ll watch your employees’ contentment and productivity rise. 

4. Incentivize results

Even when times are busy (always), don’t forget to reward your star performers. Results that go unnoticed can be very deflating to employees and gives them a reason to start looking elsewhere. Look at ways to keep track of employees who consistently perform. For example, acknowledge their on-time arrivals (some software solutions can track this automatically) and reward them with a small token of appreciation. Your employees will appreciate the recognition and feel inspired to continue their efforts.

5. Communicate

Last, but definitely not least, communication is fundamental to any relationship, and it is particularly important in the workplace. Some messages need to be communicated verbally and in-person, like feedback on how an employee is doing at their job. But other messages can be delivered electronically. Most small businesses still handle time-off or shift trade requests on paper or verbally, and these can easily get lost or forgotten. Putting systems in place that improve the ability to quickly and clearly communicate with employeescan have a huge impact on their output.

Reducing employee turnover should be a goal for all restaurant owners and managers. If you follow these suggestions, your employees will want to remain with you. And you'll be glad they did.

John Waldman is the co-founder and CEO of Homebase, which provides a new free real-time software solution that helps over 60,000 small businesses eliminate the paperwork of managing their hourly employees, help manage overtime and curbs absenteeism and turnover.