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How to Reduce Employee Turnover in Restaurants

As a restaurant owner, your employees aren’t just an integral part of your business – they are your business in various ways.

They say, “you can only make one first impression, so you’d better make it a good one.” Your employees are responsible for precisely that. They greet people when they walk into your establishment for the first time. They ensure that someone’s experience is every bit as positive as they’d hoped. The term “invaluable” isn’t strong enough to describe their contribution – which is precisely why employee turnover in the restaurant industry, in particular, is such a problem.

Training an employee to best represent everything you’ve worked so hard to build takes time, energy, and the cost of employee turnover in the restaurant industry can be expensive. It would be devastating to quickly have that person jump ship and go with a competitor or look for employment elsewhere. Thankfully, all hope is not lost if you genuinely want to know how to reduce employee turnover at your restaurant. In that case, there are a few essential things to remember.

The Restaurant Turnover Rate

But first, it’s essential to come to a better understanding of just how complex this problem can be in the first place.

According to one recent study, the average restaurant turnover rate in the United States currently sits at about 75%. This has undoubtedly been exacerbated given everything happening in the world now with the COVID-19 pandemic adding to the restaurant staff shortage.

If you want to calculate your employee turnover:

  1. Take the total number of employees who have left your establishment over a given period.
  2. Divide it by the average number of employees you have when operating at peak staff capacity.
  3. Take the number you get and multiply it by 100 – the number you arrive at is your total restaurant industry employee turnover.


Restaurant employees leave for several reasons. Whether they get a better-paying job elsewhere, don’t enjoy the position you’ve given them, or decide that the restaurant industry isn’t right for them. The key to mitigating risk from this issue involves understanding why it occurs and learning more about what you can do to address these concerns head-on to avoid restaurant staff shortage.

Create a Positive Work Environment

The most important step you can take to reduce employee turnover at your restaurant involves creating the type of environment that people want to work in.

Whether you’re talking about front-of-house staff or those who work in the kitchen, the restaurant industry can be a grind. Therefore, anything you can do to improve the environment and employee morale is a step that needs to be taken.

Make sure that employees know how much you appreciate them. Get people together for fun gatherings whenever possible. Treat people like you recognize the essential role they’ve been able to play in your success to this point. Even the smallest gesture can help make someone feel appreciated in a way that keeps them from looking for work elsewhere.

Increase Employee Benefits

Another critical step that you can take to reduce employee turnover at your restaurant involves increasing employee benefits wherever you can.

Whether that involves offering more paid time off, a better benefits package that includes healthcare and other elements that people care about, or something else remains to be seen. Don’t just assume you know what people want – sit down with your staff and ask about their concerns, trying to understand how you can meet them. Please make an effort to show that you care about someone’s opinion regarding employee benefits and do what you can to make that vision a reality.

Refine Your Hiring Strategy

Refining your hiring strategy is also a great way to help reduce restaurant employee turnover as much as possible. Remember, it’s not about finding anybody to fill an available position to avoid ​​restaurant staff shortage – it’s about finding the right person who is the best fit for your business.

Not only does this involve asking more specific questions about what someone is looking for in a job and how they see their career playing out, but it also involves things like comprehensive background checks. Use social media checks to weed out candidates. This gives you an idea based on their personalities or general behaviors, on if they don’t seem like they’d be an excellent long-term candidate for your restaurant in the first place.

Additionally, these techniques can also assist you in finding people who are passionate about the same things you are as well. This can help preserve everything you’ve already worked so hard to build.

Conduct Exit Interviews

Finally, consider the importance of conducting exit interviews when strategizing how to reduce employee turnover in restaurants.  Yes, it’s a bad situation – but it’s also a learning opportunity if you’re prepared to understand why they’ve made the decision they have to begin with.

You should be able to sit down and have an honest conversation with someone. Ask about what a candidate is looking for in a career, why they feel like you weren’t the best fit, and what you could have done to improve the situation. Can you convince this person to stay on your staff indefinitely? Not necessarily – but at the very least, you’ll be able to understand the various elements that contributed to their decision.

At that point, you can make any necessary changes to prevent the scenario from repeating itself in the future.

In the end, the restaurant industry has always been known for a high turnover rate. However, that doesn’t mean that this is an obstacle that has to stand in the way of your success. By understanding turnover within the context of your own business, you put yourself in the best position to avoid this type of issue as much as possible.

Contact the team at KarmaCheck today to find out how background checks can help reduce employee turnover.


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