4 Ways to Keep Top Talent in Your Kitchen

Responsible for bringing mouth-watering menus to life, great cooks are the key ingredient in any restaurant’s success. Long hours and frenzied pace, however, are enough to lower employee satisfaction and drive even the most renowned cooks out the door, leaving restaurant owners scrambling to staff their kitchens. During a time in which strong applicants are few and far between, replacing your back-of-house staff isn’t so easy.

Here are four tips designed to help keep top talent away from competitors and in your kitchen.

Build a path to the top

The kitchen is no place for the faint of heart. Tight quarters, blazing heat and a frenzied pace are all things cooks will experience from their very first day on the job. Staying focused amid this hustle and bustle for months on end can be difficult. Give your cooks something to work toward by outlining a clear road to advancement that highlights everything an employee needs to accomplish before earning a promotion. This will motivate staff to go above and beyond the call of duty once they know their hard work will eventually pay off.

Hear them out

Sit down with your back-of-house staff for a few minutes each week and invite them to voice their biggest concerns and pitch their best suggestions. These meetings will give all cooks – regardless of their experience or position – the opportunity to identify areas for improvement and pitch new ideas for dishes that will keep your menu fresh all year long. Use the information you’ve gathered to make changes that will boost employee satisfaction.

Promote work-life balance

Although working in the restaurant industry means a typical 9-to-5 schedule is likely out of reach, you can still provide your back-of-house staff with a healthy work-life balance. Be flexible when it comes to scheduling shifts so employees can attend special events during a lunch or dinner service. You might also consider giving your staff consecutive days off instead of spacing out their time away from the restaurant across the course of the week. Doing your best to accommodate an employee’s life outside work will help prevent them from burning out shortly after they come onboard.

Set expectations

During the onboarding process, explain what you expect from each employee on a daily basis. Be as specific as possible to ensure there is no confusion surrounding what they need to do to be successful. Aside from giving them quick bits of feedback throughout the day, you should also schedule performance evaluations every few months so that employees know where they stand and what they can improve upon moving forward.

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