It’s Friday night and your best server is nowhere to be found. He worked earlier, but never returned from his break. You have called him repeatedly and his phone goes straight to voicemail. You’ve always depended on this server. He works long hours, double shifts, and rarely complains. Your stomach drops. Has he been overworked?

Frustrated restaurant manager

Sound familiar? It should. Restaurant managers are dealing with this situation on an increasing basis. “The turnover rates for hourly and supervisory-level restaurant employees climbed in April 2018 to the highest levels in decades, leaving three out of four places constantly understaffed” according to Restaurant Business Online. There are officially more restaurants than ever before, but fewer employees to staff them.

Restaurant employees often quit on a whim, without warning. There are various reasons ranging from: not a good fit, willy-nilly scheduling, inadequate training, poor leadership, and the list goes on. Here is more information on the ‘why’ behind restaurant turnover. The bottom line is, when employees leave, a ripple effect of disorder ensues. The rush to hire and train new staff can result in negative customer experiences and brand damage. Although complete elimination of turnover may not be possible, you can reduce it if you apply these four fundamental concepts:

1. Find the Right People for the Job

You’re often pressured to hire fast, but if the applicant is not suitable for your restaurant, you will be faced with repercussions. If possible, be patient when hiring new employees and hire smart, not fast. Call references and pay attention to their resume. Ask yourself: “Is this applicant a job-hopper?” Ask them about their intentions to gain insights into whether or not they are just looking for a few months of work or a permanent employment opportunity. When hiring, it’s also important to consider your restaurant culture. The candidate may superficially seem like a good fit, but are they the best fit for your team and brand?

2. Shake Things Up with a Rotating Schedule

Your employees are more than just their ID numbers. They are human beings who lead dynamic lives: whether they’re juggling school, family, or both, managers must understand that the restaurant is not their only obligation. According to Inc., “vacation helps the entire company–from the employee’s mental state and productivity, to the company’s bottom line.” All employees need time to rest and re-focus, so refrain from scheduling someone on four back-to-back double shifts. Whether your employees are burnt-out, or in need of more shifts, keeping a fair, rotating schedule is in everyone’s best interest. If your employees know you will work with them, they will be more willing to work with you.

3. Consistency Breeds Confidence and Loyalty

There is nothing more frustrating than a boss who trains his/her employees haphazardly. Training is crucial to the success of your business. Make it a priority to do it right. Maintain a standard protocol for orientation and integration for all new hires. Nothing sends an employee running faster than disorganized and disconnected leadership. Teach your employees what you want them to know and then proctor a written test that focuses on restaurant concepts, customer service, and menu items to certify that each server is prepared before starting on the floor. This guarantees optimal customer experiences from new team members. Even after the completion of training, continue to teach your staff new skills to peak interest and foster consistent engagement. They will feel empowered and loyal to your brand.

4. Reciprocity Makes a Difference

Treat others as you want to be treated is more than an adage, it is a key to business success. According to Forbes, approximately two out of every three employees feel underappreciated and 66% of employees will leave their job if they feel taken for granted. Among Millennials, those numbers jump as high as 76%. Appreciating your employees goes far beyond pay. To ensure employee retention, managers must regularly recognize efforts, offer support and positive reinforcement. Consider honoring an employee of the month with a reward or giving an anonymous, monthly survey to see if your employees feel that they are treated well. Most importantly, never underestimate the power of a “thank you.”

Even if you do everything right, turnover will still occur. However, focusing on hiring, training, scheduling, and employee management will help you keep your staff and your customers satisfied and coming back regularly.

We hope this will be useful to you when it comes to staffing and overcoming high turnover rates. If you’d like to receive more information about this topic, sign up for our newsletter. If your restaurant reputation has been damaged and you’re looking for digital marketing assistance, contact us at Absolute Marketing Solutions for brand management consulting.