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3 Ways to Retain Great Restaurant Employees

Earlier this year, Starbucks announced it will offer tuition reimbursement to employees. In a headline-grabbing, 4,000-employee hiring binge, Chipotle showed candidates a career path where entry-level employees eventually could find themselves working in the corporate office. And in related news, restaurants in Seattle, San Francisco and St. Paul, Minn., are competing for top-chef talent with wage wars.

From fine dining to fast food, restaurant owners and operators are finding ways to hire the best candidates and increase employee engagement in an effort to reduce turnover and combat the impending labor shortage facing the industry.

More jobs, fewer applicants

The industry has seen consistent growth in sales over the last several decades. And job creation has grown with it. In 2014, the restaurant industry was the second-largest private sector employer with 13.5 million employees. Industry forecasts predict that over the next 10 years, the industry will add 1.7 million new jobs. This growth, combined with a shrinking applicant pool, means restaurants are competing with one another to hire the best candidates and keep them on board.

Terms of engagement

Fostering a culture of engagement can help you build and retain a skilled, efficient workforce that provides great customer service and drives success. These three tips can help you attract and retain the best employees:

  1. Offer easily accessible and (somewhat) flexible schedules. Employees like the opportunity to easily update their availability, submit requests for shift swaps and have a voice in the creation of their schedules.
  2. Show them the way forward. Employees who move up in the restaurant industry have an invaluable management perspective. They’ve experienced the problems and rewards of entry-level positions firsthand. And they have an understanding of how the operation works from almost every angle. Showing entry-level employees the path to advancement helps to reduce turnover and cultivate a knowledgeable and productive management team for the future.
  3. Onboard and train. Implementing an efficient new-hire process and investing in training shows you’re willing to invest in employees’ success and lets them know they’re more than just a number.

With the competition for great restaurant employees heating up, becoming a preferred employer is the key to overcoming labor shortages. Increasing employee engagement can help you attract skilled workers and maintain a full, highly trained staff that delivers superior customer service and operational efficiency.