Restaurant Marketing

The Restaurant Turnover Rate Explained

It’s busy season in your restaurant, but you’ve lost several servers this month, and you can’t figure out why. You’re not the only one; according to Restaurant Business Online, the turnover rates for hourly-level restaurant employees climbed to the highest level in decades as of April 2018.

Now Hiring

There are various internal and external factors that contribute to the cycle of employee loss. The first step in solving a problem is recognizing that there is one. Understanding the reasons for turnover will help you maintain a full staff and smoothly operate your business.


The restaurant industry is the leading employer of teenagers and students. According to National Restaurant Association, one-third of all working teenagers in the U.S. are employed in a restaurant and 27% of all food and beverage employees are enrolled in school. Students often work in the hospitality industry as a way to earn fast cash before they graduate. In fact, students rarely work full-time while they are pursuing their college degrees. This could cause conflict between the employer and employee due to changes in school and work schedules. As a restaurant manager, it is necessary to understand the likelihood of losing student employees.


Turnover rates increase when the economy is doing well. This is due to a higher number of opportunities at other restaurants and businesses. You’re not just competing for customers anymore, but for valuable workers. Forbes labels a strong economy as a catalyst for high employee turnover. “More jobs mean more choice for workers looking for the right company fit. When an organization no longer seems like a good match, an employee is more likely to move on.”


Long hours, low pay, little recognition, and poor work culture can contribute to high turnover rates. If you’re not paying any attention to employees’ states of mind, they’re likely to leave. Recognizing that each employee has a life outside of the restaurant is crucial in keeping them around. Make it a habit to inquire about your employees’ families, school, or hobbies. Know what your staff is doing outside of the restaurant and show that you care about their work-life balance. Understanding their outside life is important, but creating an engaging internal culture is just as vital. The New York Times reports that “employees are engaged when they feel productive, think they are contributing to their company’s mission, have trust and confidence in their managers and are given the opportunity to grow and advance — not necessarily by climbing the corporate ladder, but by learning new skills.” Creating a valuable company culture isn’t easy, so we’ll be posting another blog soon that explains how to do so.


Some employees leave with the seasons. The National Restaurant Association reports that there are more than 500,000 restaurant jobs added in the summer... up North that is. In Florida, summer is the slow season. Fewer customers mean fewer tips: a server’s worst nightmare. Regardless of where you live, during off-seasons, front-of-the-house staff suffer and may seek employment in another industry.

Although you don’t have control over economic and seasonal issues, you can prevent losing employees by becoming familiar with the risks and providing a supportive, inviting company culture. Read more about some of the ways you can curb turnover rates here.

To keep up to date on trends that can affect your restaurant, sign up for our newsletter. If you need help marketing your restaurant or repairing your brand, contact us at Absolute Marketing Solutions.

About Mine Salkin

A lover of words, ideas, and inspiring action. Miné is a multimedia content creator with experience in digital media, documentary television, digital marketing, social media, and advertising. Miné's work has been published internationally across various print, television, and online media.