How to retain restaurant employees? That’s probably one of the most asked questions by restaurant owners, knowing the employment custom in the foodservice industry. It’s always part of the dilemma along with the hiring process, staff engagement, and staff turnover.
Restaurant staff is known to be notorious job-hoppers. As soon as they don’t feel valued, or the workload is too much for the pay, they leave the organization right away and start moving forward without even looking back.
That’s how firm they are when it comes to their overall welfare. Gone are the days where business owners work for their staff until they drop. Restaurant staff is now smarter and wiser, and they already know their worth and how important they should be in a company.
Imagine trying to run a business without a single employee? Sounds impossible, right? This is how much authority your staff and employees hold against you. And this should not be the case. You’re supposed to be a team that’s working towards your shared goals.
As a business owner, the relationship between you and your team is important. It’s something that you should work for and establish even before you decide to operate officially. Herein lies the importance of restaurant working culture.
Today, learn what are the practical things you can do to create and establish a nurturing culture for your employees. A culture that’s built for them, not for the business, and the one that will make it hard for them to leave the team.
First, let’s talk about culture. How can you identify that a system is already a culture? From a business perspective, what’s the importance of culture? Is it necessary, or is it just something that’s needed to satisfy society?
Culture is debatable and subjective. To put it simply, it is what your employees feel when they’re surrounded by your team, whether they’re working or not. It’s the representation of your business values, principles, goals, and characters.
We mentioned subjective and debatable as it will depend on how a single employee will feel. There may be instances that it may differ from one staff to another. And as the owner to unify this belief. Hence, you must create a culture that is more stable for them to rely on.
What is the significance of restaurant culture?
If this is a question that you’re still trying to find an answer to, then you’re probably losing the market by now. Having a culture allows your team to operate in their optimal condition. It is one of their motivation drivers, despite the workload and the demands of the customers.
And if you notice that there are some changes to the working culture that you’ve established, fret not as this is a good thing for your team and your entire restaurant. It just means that your entire business is adapting to the dynamic needs of the market.
But, don’t lose sight of your brand and identity in the process. What we mean by adapting is that you’re showing your customers that you listen and understand their needs. Proving that you want to maintain the relationship you’re trying to build with them.
How to create a supportive restaurant culture?
If you’re considering revamping your culture, or just want to try out something new, here’s a short guide you can use to create a sustainable and effective culture. A system that will nurture and motivate them to perform better and improve their productivity.
Identify the values that define your business
Help your team to understand how you stand for things. Not just by listing them down, but by showing them how you want things to be done. It should start with you, you should be the role model of the culture and values you want them to imbibe.
Not everyone will understand you right away. This is why having a restaurant employee handbook should be handy for you and your staff. State there what are the specific values you expect to resonate with your business and operations.
After that, develop processes and policies aligned to these values. Make sure that your operational procedures will enforce the business values that you want. This is how you slowly create a culture within your team.
It’s ideal that you also incorporate these core values into your mission and vision statement. This can serve as a daily reminder for your team on what your restaurant is about. As a result, they may act consistently at work and whenever interacting with others.
Apply what you’ve learned in the past
As a new restaurant owner, you think that this may not be applicable for you, but it is still. When we say we learned from the past, that doesn’t necessarily mean past business or past employees. It can be a lesson learned when you were just in college or business school.
You’re always around different people. Be observant and take note of the opportunities where you can learn. It can be a simple project and you’re assigned as a leader. What are the steps you did to motivate your group? There are many doors you can open.
And if you’re already in this industry for a fair share of time, then this should be a bit easier for you. You know that you can’t apply the same method you did for a different problem. You know what are the things that worked for you, and what are those you need to let go of.
Take note of the principles that worked for your restaurant and your team. Then creatively apply it to your current management system. It’s a lot easier for you as you’re skipping the trial and error process. You know that this works, thus, there’s a great chance it will again.
Consult your customers about possible improvements
There are instances where you would meet a creative dead-end. If you’re running out of ideas on what type of culture you should build, then ask your customers. Their role is to serve as an outside pair of eyes. Often, they can see something that you or your team are unaware of.
Also, it is their demands that need to be met. If you’re in doubt if your culture will work with them, then ask them directly what they would think about your proposed working culture. Often, they can be a source of a fresh perspective about a new dining experience.
How To Maintain Restaurant Culture and Retain Employees
Corbin & King joins a list of hospitality companies struggling with restaurant labor shortages and recruitment difficulties. They’re recently forced to temporarily close Soutine, a restaurant in London due to a serious shortage of staff.
Did you know that the hospitality industry is having it twice as tough in filling job vacancies compared to other industries? Employees in this field have difficulty getting satisfaction from their jobs due to the ever-changing needs of customers plus their typically fast-paced environment.
Before the pandemic, there’s already a running employment issue in the foodservice industry. Competency aside, restaurant owners are also finding it hard to make a staff stay longer with them.
You should know that you should always aim for retention, rather than going for someone new. The entire hiring and onboarding process cost much more compared to if you’re going to offer your staff across and refresher training.
Due to the forced closing of the restaurants and other food establishments during the pandemic, some of the restaurants need to furlough some of their staff. And since it took time for other areas to recover, some of those staff also looked for a more secure job.
With the development of our fight against Covid-19, restaurants are now open to serve the customers. Customers are excited to go and dine outside, however, there are not enough servers to serve them all.
What are the reasons for employee departures?
While others can deal with a demanding and fast-paced environment, others remain skeptical about it, especially if their benefits and wages are just enough. Modern employees now know that other opportunities could give them better incentives.
And this can be achieved without the need of working themselves out, physically and mentally. Imagine being required to move at a rapid pace while wearing a facemask? The current market situation will make it harder for you to court employees.
Benefits and health incentives aside, childcare support and career development also play an important role in restaurant labor shortage issues. Thirty-five percent of the workforce is composed of parents, and their lack of support affects their decision whether or not to join a brand.
As for career development, most of the restaurant staff are leaving their team because they see no growth and opportunity for them. One of the most common mistakes you can make is to dismiss training and connection with your staff.
Lastly, even though exposure and experience are important, employees are now prioritizing their physical and mental health. They know that they can’t focus on their job while thinking of the risk of contracting the virus during their work.
What is the best way to retain employees and maintain the company culture?
Everyone should understand that not all strategies are effective for every restaurant. Under the restaurant industry, there are plenty of playing factors that you should consider before you try out a plan.
Check the status of your restaurant and take note of what are the main sources on why you’re having to deal with restaurant labor shortages. Here are some of the solutions you can use to prevent you from facing this type of concern.
Lead by demonstrating
It was mentioned above that it should start with you. Your actions and management must resonate with the core values that you’ve stated. You should believe in those values and how they will lead your business into success.
A huge part of management and culture is leading by showing them that it’s possible. You can’t simply say to them that it’s doable and expect them to believe you right away. There’s a greater chance that they’ll be staying with you because you lead them to be better.
And as for restaurant employee retention, your staff will find it easier to believe in something if you believe in it as well. Because they’re holding on to something they believe in, leaving will be more difficult.
Make your hiring process innovative and edgy
Ensure that your hiring process is attractive, especially to first-time job seekers. Keep in mind that young professionals already have different sets of goals and priorities. Align those with your recruitment program to gather enough interest from this group.
Consider launching a referral program to keep your current team excited with your hiring process. This doesn’t just keep your staff’s spirits high, but it also assures, in a way, that you’ll be hiring qualified employees for your team.
Be creative and innovative. Most of the modern job seekers are looking through online platforms. Advertise your job posting well and enlist your employee benefits, perks, and onboarding benefits to keep them hooked.
Adopt a value-based approach in hiring
Anyone can learn a skill with proper training. Hiring someone based on their skills, there’s a great chance that he won’t work well with the culture you’ve established. Why? Because they already have their way on how to do things.
Values are not something you can force on someone. If their values are not aligned with yours and the core value of your restaurant, then there’ll always be this gap between your business and your team.
In your hiring process, make sure to ask them different things that will help you assess their values at work. Learn how important it is for them to have a healthy working culture, and what are the things they do to contribute to its goodness.
The more you know about them, the easier it will be to create a connection with them. This is a great part of many restaurant employee retention strategies as it helps you prevent future internal conflicts.
Provide flexible benefits
Understand that your team is composed of different individuals. Take a good look and observe what are the benefits you can offer that will best serve their needs and concerns. Through this, you’re showing them that you give them value as part of your team.
Talk to your staff and ask them what are the benefits or incentives that you can offer to them. Are there parents on your team? Then create flexible working hours for them. What about working students? Make it possible for them to pick a shift that won’t interfere with their studies.
There are plenty of ways that you can show support to your staff. Allowing them to enjoy such benefits motivates them to continue supporting your restaurant. While culture is important, benefits and salary will always count.
Create opportunities for professional growth
Remember that the restaurant industry suffered a great loss during the pandemic. This even revealed how unstable the industry and system are. Thus creating fear and doubts among the employees, leaving them thinking if sticking into the industry is the right thing to do.
Most of the restaurant staff were forced to leave the industry because no more opportunities are waiting for them. Especially now that it’s undergoing labor shortages, employees are trying to find their luck with other industries such as logistics and the like.
But you see, as a restaurant owner you have the authority to turn the tables. You can establish opportunities to enhance their skills and promote them professionally. Build a culture that gives them space for improvement and growth.
Concentrate on retention. The competition in this industry remains intense, your competitors will be launching different hiring and training benefits to attract employees. Study the benefits and training programs that they’re offering and make improvements based on what you learned.
Prioritize the health of your staff
And we’re not just talking about physical health, you also have to consider the mental wellness of your staff. This pandemic has taken a toll on everyone’s mental health. The uncertainty triggers most of the employees’ anxiety as they don’t feel safe anymore.
Although this wasn’t that much an issue before, the sudden rise of indoor diners will make it extra difficult for your restaurant staff to cope. The fear of contracting the virus while on duty will surely affect their performance, and their mental state in the long run.
To show that you’re taking this seriously, be proactive. Communicate with your staff and ask them what kind of support they need. It’s wise to ask them what are possible issues that might hinder retention because you’re enabled to prepare and create a plan to prevent it.
For physical health, make sure that you’ll be scheduling them fairly. Even though it’s understandable for them to work long hours and during weekends or holidays, make sure that you’ll consider equality and fairness to your appointed working hours.
You can also consider mandating face masks and vaccines for the safety of your team. But you must ensure that you can provide adequate support for this initiative and that they’re at ease with this arrangement.
Establish an open communication
Make them feel that they can talk to you just about almost anything. Your staff should not see you as a tyrant leader who just wants to increase the flow of the revenue, rather they should see you as a leader who listens and cares for them.
Be open to your team. Involve them in the management and other administrative processes, you might be surprised at how much they know about every corner of your restaurant. Your employees are more likely to adopt your organization’s culture if they feel like they are part of it.
Your staff is the building block of your business. They are an essential element of your business. If there are not enough staff, then your operation will suffer immensely. The issue of a restaurant labor shortage is a subject of a global concern that needs attention.