Restaurant Retention: How to Keep Employees Happy

During the Great Resignation of late 2021, staggering numbers of employees left their jobs in search of new opportunities. Lack of opportunity, low pay, difficulty with childcare, and feeling disrespected at work were amongst a wide variety of factors listed as motivators. Amongst those who left their workplace, one-fourth of those were in the hospitality industry. 

As of early 2022, there were still 11.5 million open jobs, with organizations challenged to hire amidst unprecedented competition for talent. With 70 percent of restaurant operators reporting labor and staffing issues and not being able to keep up with demand, how can restaurants boost employee satisfaction and retention? 

There’s good news! In addition to paying a competitive salary, there are many other ways restaurateurs can boost employee satisfaction and happiness. 

Give Responsive Feedback

“Sixty-nine percent of employees say they would work harder if they felt their work was better recognized.” – OfficeVibe Survey

A recent survey done by OfficeVibe shows that 39% of workers feel that they are not appreciated at work, and 65 percent of employees say they would like more feedback at work. Make sure you are giving positive feedback often (both positive and constructive) regularly, and that you are open to receiving feedback as well.

Employees value knowing where they can improve, and how their contributions are helping the business. By creating a safe space where feedback can be heard and received by all team members, you’ll be able to stay aware of how individuals feel about their work. This way, you can address any issues before they fester into bigger problems.

Offer Professional Development and Advancement Opportunities

According to a LinkedIn survey, 94 percent of employees say they would stay at a company longer if the company invested in their learning and development. By investing in your employees' development and career goals, your team members will gain confidence, knowledge, and valuable life skills. Consider investing in online courses, mentoring, or letting employees take on new responsibilities. As restaurants are adding ghost kitchens or new delivery options, there may be new skills/positions for your employees that have arisen due to consumer preference shifts in the industry. For example, maybe an employee wants to test out delivery driving or move into managing technology. 

Look for additional ways to empower professional development and leadership skills. Employees that are given job training, mentoring, and upward movement potential are empowered to learn new skills and be better able to take on new responsibilities. 

Simplify Daily Stressors

Dealing with a faulty POS, a glitchy computer, or a slow ordering kiosk can be exasperating. By making sure your restaurants have the necessary equipment and software, you can minimize frustrations and maximize productivity. Even something as simple as fixing that old receipt printer that always gets the paper stuck can make your employees’ day a little easier. 

There is no magic wand that can take away nightly cleaning checks or health inspections. But you can make tedious processes easier, faster, and more accurate with digital tools. Today’s innovative tech solutions allow employees to conduct daily tasks quickly and efficiently, so they can move on to their preferred tasks, like interacting with guests and serving delicious meals. 

Make employees' lives a little easier by simplifying and updating tools, systems, and processes they use in their day-to-day work. Talk to your staff regularly about any pain points they are experiencing and ask them how you can help.

Use a Digital Scheduling System

In-line with having the right tools for the job, you will especially want to make sure to have the right scheduling software, as this is one of the most common problems for restaurant employees. Updated scheduling systems eliminate the need for printed, emailed, or outdated scheduling methods. Notably, many restaurant workers have left their jobs due to not getting enough hours, or burnout from working too much. 

By utilizing a scheduling system, you can not only ensure you have enough staff at the right time, but you can also let employees enter their availability and make sure they are getting the right amount of work to fit their individual goals and needs. A digital scheduling system eliminates the hassles of managing multiple employees' schedules and countless hours of time. Plus, restaurant scheduling software will simplify the scheduling process, making it easier for you to make schedules that work for both your restaurant and your team. 

Small Gifts of Gratitude

Never forget the impact a small gift of gratitude can make. Whether it’s in a work or professional environment, small thank-you’s for a job well done or a compliment after a long day can really brighten someone’s entire day. 

Remember to say thank you to your employees often and genuinely. Go the extra mile and send a gift on their birthday or write a thank you note. Employees that feel valued are more likely to be engaged and happy to be at work. By celebrating the small wins—during staff meetings, on social media, or through small gifts or bonuses—you can make sure to communicate your appreciation for your staff. Employees who feel valued are more likely to work harder, stay longer, and be happier in your restaurants. bre