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According to the National Restaurant Association, 84% of operators reported staffing levels lower than normal. Eating and drinking places remain 1.5 million jobs (or 12%) short of fulfilling staffing needs. Restaurateurs cannot find employees to increase their staffing levels.

In order to attract employees and encourage your staff to stay at your restaurant, it’s important to understand why a labor shortage is sweeping the industry and execute techniques to minimize staff turnover.

Here are 5 tips to help you keep restaurant employee turnover to a minimum:

1. Look for a good fit

Minimizing employee turnover starts with the hiring process. If you attract employees that are already a good match with your restaurant, you’ll have a head start on keeping them happy and satisfied.

Use your contacts

Ask employees, friends, and others whose opinions you value for staffing recommendations. These trusted “recruits” can bring already-endorsed candidates to the table and widen your talent pool.

Hire trainable personalities

If someone is lacking experience yet has an agreeable personality, don’t automatically discard them. The pandemic has shifted many peoples’ careers, so you could have eager candidates ready to work that don’t have much experience.

Seize the opportunity

When reviewing candidates, try to make room for a highly talented and versatile person — even if there is no position available at that time. Getting a star on your roster is more beneficial to your business than losing that person to your competition.

Establish a wish list

Make sure your managers are on board with the qualities, skills, experiences, and characteristics that are important for each new hire. Also, determine a standard process and list of questions so that all interviews are conducted consistently.

Create an easy application process

Make sure your application process is user-frinedly and easy to complete. Post about your openings online and put a help wanted sign in your window so that potential employees know you are looking to hire.

2. Be transparent about your COVID-19 policies

QSR recently reported that 28% of restaurant operators think it will be 7-12 months before staffing returns to normal, which means it’s that much more important that restaurant operators  are understanding of their employees’ personal circumstances and are transparent about your COVID-19 policies.

While it’s impossible to predict how the restaurant industry will be impacted in the upcoming months, it’s important to be transparent with your employees about your restaurant’s operations and relevant COVID policies.

Some cities require restaurant workers to be vaccinated or wear masks. Clearly communicating workplace requirements with your employees can help them make decisions about their ability to work. Check out our free resource of reopening checklists and procedures here.

3. Learn what makes your employees happy

One of the best ways to keep your staff engaged is to get them involved in certain decisions that impact their jobs. Asking for employee feedback periodically is a win-win for everyone. You can gain insight to help prevent problems and make informed decisions, while your employees feel valued and respected. The end result yields a deeper bond and a sense of loyalty.

Ask for their opinion

Use surveys to ask specifics regarding what they like about their jobs, and what they’d like to change, Keep comments confidential in order to encourage participation and receive honest feedback.

Consider their feedback

Are any suggestions for change valid? Can you make any accommodations without compromising quality and efficiency in your business? Be sure to offer clear explanations on policies for those things you can’t change.

Express your appreciation

Above all, let your employees know you value them, their opinions, their talents, and their contribution to the team.

At Windy City Ribs in Chicago, owner Terri Evans prioritizes letting her staff know they are valued. As Windy City Ribs focuses on returning to full service after the pandemic, Terri is continuing efforts to engage and motivate her staff so that she can fulfill the high rise in demand from customers. Terri offers flexible schedules and pays above minimum wage to attract employees during the labor shortage.

“We are creating an atmosphere that will make our employees say ‘this is a great place to work.’ We want to help them create wealth for their family and generations to come.”

Headshot of Terri Evans from Windy City Ribs and Whiskey
Terri Evans
Windy City Ribs

Learn how Terri and other restaurant operators are overcoming staffing challenges in our latest Restaurant Roundtable. Tune in here.

4. Maintain a supportive work environment

You can’t serve your hungry customers without cooks in the kitchen, servers on the floor, and hosts at the door. Supporting your staff throughout their employment is key in making your restaurant successful.

Accommodate schedules when possible

COVID-19 has changed the circumstances for everyone. Strive to be as flexible and understanding as possible when an employee has something come up unexpectedly. As long as it’s not a habit, try to modify or accommodate their schedule to help them out.

Get creative with training

Reopening restaurants has led to large waves of new staff who may be unfamiliar with your business and the restaurant industry. Standardizing company training programs can get everyone on the same page.

Make on-going development a priority by using videos and other training technology, holding weekly training “huddles,” establishing cross-staff mentorship, and incentivizing employee improvements.

Make investments in your staff

Pay is definitely a factor in an employee’s level of satisfaction, and pay should be linked to performance. By “investing” in your valued employees, you are sure to get a return on that investment through their hard work, loyalty, and the value they bring to your restaurant.

5. Offer stability

Financial instability concerns have been heightened due to the pandemic. While the country is in limbo as we navigate how to return to normal, employees are looking for a reliable job where they can earn wages and stick to a schedule. It’s important now more than ever to be upfront about employees’ pay, schedule, and benefits.

Nation’s Restaurant News predicts that operators will be paying workers more and providing more benefits in 2022 in order to recruit and retain workers after the pandemic. It may take raising workers’ wages in order to maintain employment levels. While this could subsequently cause a hike in menu pricing, diners are more understanding about the hits the service industry has faced during the pandemic.

Revisiting your menu pricing? Check out our blog post to learn more about the most popular menu pricing strategies.

Always prioritize health and safety

To attract and retain employees during the pandemic, it’s important to prioritize health and safety. While masking, social distancing, and sanitizing can help protect your employees and patrons, the CDC says that restaurants that offer delivery, takeout, and curb-side pickup pose the lowest risk of spreading COVID-19.

Looking for a way to safely reach more customers? When you partner with Grubhub, you can offer contact-free delivery, curbside pickup, and takeout to get your dishes to customers while safeguarding your employees.

Reach more customers by getting started with Grubhub today.

graphic banner illustrating the power of a Grubhub partnership