How to Increase Your Staff Retention Levels
Staff retention is a key issue for all business owners, but it places a considerable extra burden on you as a restaurant owner and the staff who are trying to run your kitchen if employees are constantly leaving. It can be an expensive burden too, because hiring and training new staff can be a lengthy and costly procedure. The more staff you have to replace, the higher the bills and the lower your productivity rates will be.
For a business that depends so much on its reputation, any disruption to your service or reduction in food quality could have a serious impact on your restaurant's performance.
What makes staff stay in their job?
To reduce staff turnover, you need to know what makes people want to stay in a job and why they might make the decision to leave. If you're instantly assuming its money, think again; research shows that most people place happiness in their work at the top of the list. Money is a factor, after all, if you can be better paid for doing the same work elsewhere it makes sense to switch, but if an employee is happy in their job, then even the allure of higher pay won't necessarily get them to move. If it's not the pay that makes the difference, what are the key elements in keeping staff happy?
Job satisfaction is crucial
If the work they're doing isn't rewarding or engaging, then money becomes the focus and staff will go wherever they can get the best pay. Are you creating an environment where your employees are nurtured, well-trained, encouraged, and have the opportunity to progress? If you're not, it would be a good idea to turn your attention to staff development and engagement to improve job satisfaction.
Many of the people working for you will be doing the job because they feel drawn to it, as you were yourself. Being a chef is a calling, and many of your other staff will be working in a restaurant because they enjoy that kind of environment. You'll also have staff who are there because they need a job, and they have ambitions outside that need; but they can still achieve high levels of job satisfaction if they're given help and encouragement, and may well end up staying because they enjoy the job.
People need to feel respected
Respecting your staff and appreciating their efforts makes a huge difference to how happy people are in their work. Simply expressing gratitude for a job well done, and listening to their ideas and any challenges they're facing is worth a great deal to your staff. They should feel that they can approach you and that you will give them your attention. Ignoring staff members, not making time for them, and not encouraging them is highly demoralizing and sure to alienate your employees. If the only time you ever engage with them is to tell them they've done something wrong, you'll drain their enthusiasm, and they'll end up resenting you.
Bonuses and rewards
Staff bonuses and rewards can be effective ways of retaining staff without costing you as much as a straightforward pay rise. Productivity bonuses, performance awards, staff discounts; there are many ways in which you can add to the value of your job offer. There are even businesses devoted to supplying a variety of rewards for staff, from gifts to vouchers to days out.
Staff perks don't have to be glamorous; sometimes the practical alternatives are the most appealing. For example, contributing to your employees' 401(k) retirement account isn't mandatory, but matching their contributions up to a certain percentage or setting up a profit-sharing contribution program provides a significant benefit to your staff, and you can claim back tax on your contributions too. If your employees aren't sure about the advantages of this kind of arrangement, refer them to something like this that can explain the benefits to them and offer guidance on managing their 401(k).
Provide the best working conditions
You'll have statutory obligations regarding health and safety and employment legislation, but the higher the standard of the working conditions the more loyal your staff will be. Try and go beyond the minimum required by law and give your employees clean, bright, comfortable conditions to take their breaks in, as well as work in.
Don't make the mistake of getting so involved in other aspects of your restaurant business that you lose sight of the fact that your staff are a vital and influential cog in the wheel. Treat them well and your days of high staff turnover will be a thing of the past.