How one high-tech tool helps restaurants reduce turnover.

Employee turnover is a challenge that has grown drastically amid the COVID-19 pandemic. In January, the Bureau of Labor Statistics announced that the turnover rate for the hospitality industry reached a whopping 130.7 percent in 2020, compared to 78.9 percent in 2019. Yet, despite the high costs of replacing and training employees, many foodservice leaders have accepted that high employee turnover is just part of doing business.

“Many restaurant leaders have been in pain year over year due to turnover, and they’ve gotten used to living with it,” says Chad Troutman, chief marketing officer at Sprockets. “They often think the only solution is to get more people to apply so that they can frequently restaff and hopefully keep a few good employees. But turnover is a compounding problem, and the more staff leaves, the more remaining employees also get fed up and go to other brands, too. You can’t expect to ignore the problem and have it go away.”

Now, however, Sprockets offers restaurants real, sustainable relief by targeting one of the influences on turnover: hiring. By improving hiring with a self-serve tool that blends artificial intelligence, machine learning, and psychological research, Sprockets helps restaurants significantly decrease churn.

“My grandmother owned an A&W root beer shop, and, as a kid, I saw how bad hires build a lack of trust in the brand and store culture, especially when good employees had to pick up the slack,” Troutman says. “Not only can targeting the right hires help bring in employees that are likely to be the most successful with the brand in the long run, but it can also reduce turnover generated by additional staff burnout.”

The way Sprockets works is simple: Managers at each brand location choose three of their top performers, who take a brief survey. After that, applicants also fill out a survey, and Sprockets uses AI and machine learning to gauge which applicants will perform like those top employees.

“Sprockets doesn’t make hiring any more complicated for managers,” Troutman says. “The only change to their process is that rather than them serving as the first contact for applicants, we send those applicants an email with a link to the survey first. Then, applicants are scored based on how well they match top performers not just within the company, but at that individual location, since each store will have its own needs and priorities. Managers can then quickly review applicants’ Sprockets scores to see who they’d like to call for an interview.”

With this simple process, many restaurants have seen quick improvements to their hiring process as well as a reduction in turnover. Troutman says, on average, Sprockets can increase a restaurant’s 90-day retention by as much as 43 percent. And, because this restaurant is able to keep more employees, the turnover rate continues to drop, since there are fewer holes to fill in each 90-day cycle.

“As we all know, turnover is our biggest obstacle,” says Curtis Wilhelmi, people organization lead at Hart 2 Hart Inc., which operates 17 McDonald’s locations. “If I can give my team a tool to choose better candidates during the application process, it will make them more successful. Choosing the correct people at the beginning helps your 90-day turnover and year-to-year annual turnover, because you start with the right people. Even if [Sprockets] saves you one bad hire per year, you’re up money.”

Additionally, Sprockets is easy to set up, allowing each store to quickly feel the positive impact the tool has on hiring and turnover.

“Most restaurants are able to have the system up and running within a week,” Troutman says. “Plus, we’re not only reducing churn, which reduces time and resources spent on hiring and training, but we’re also reinvigorating managers and the workforce, since employees of all levels know they have consistent help and a team that will help them grow. At the end of the day, this helps restaurants have more time to do what they do best: serve their customers.”

Visit the Sprockets website to learn more about how this tool can help you reduce turnover.

By Peggy Carouthers

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