Four Ways To Solve Your Wait Staff Retention Challenges

Restaurant employee turnover is one of the steepest challenges facing the restaurant industry. The statistics continue to trend upward on the retention woes restaurant owners face. In 2016, the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Job Openings and Labor Turnover [JOLTS] program reinforced this concept, reporting a restaurant sector employee turnover rate of 73 percent—an overwhelming statistic.

Why is there so much restaurant employee turnover?
Restaurant employee turnover is somewhat akin to a perfect storm. Many factors come together to make a certain higher-than-average level of turnover inevitable for restaurant owners and managers. Some of the variables that contribute to the high levels of turnover in the restaurant industry include the following:

  1. According to the Department of Labor, the hospitality industry employs the largest number of teenagers, who tend to stay at their jobs for below-average time periods.
  1. The restaurant industry is often seasonal in nature. In fact, the National Restaurant Association reports that upward of 500,000 jobs are added during the summer months of the calendar.
  1. A part-time workforce is, by nature, more transient. A large percentage of restaurant employees are working toward a different goal. They are part-time wait staff getting a college degree, completing a professional development course or saving for a specific goal. When they reach their objective, they often no longer need to work in the restaurant.

Why turnover rates matter?
So, why not just hire someone else? The problem is hiring an employee has many costs both tangible (monetary) and intangible. Cornell University estimates a cost of approximately $5,864 for each restaurant employee that is not retained. This number is calculated using the cost of recruitment, selection, orientation and training as well as lack of productivity. This measurable figure is further complicated by intangible impacts on culture, employee morale and your restaurant’s external reputation.

  1. Hire smart. While it may not always be possible to hire employees who plan to stay with you long-term, it does make sense to try to avoid those who are only in town for one more semester or have plans in the near future to pursue a different career. Another smart hiring tip is to hire for attitude, use personality tests and well thought-out interviewing techniques to determine if your new hire will actually fit within your restaurant’s unique environment. Additionally, complete applications and reference checks can help prevent bad hiring decisions.
  1. Train well. Set your new staff members up for success with a comprehensive training program. Your restaurant employee turnover rate is sure to be much higher without the existence of full-scale training efforts.
  1. Manage creatively. Your management staff is key to keeping restaurant employee turnover as low as possible. They interact with your workforce day in and day out. Through training and support, you can ensure that they are communicating well with employees, performing timely reviews and helping your staff flourish in your restaurant’s setting.
  1. Offer perks. The restaurant industry is known for long hours and a lower-than-average hourly pay scale. You can set yourself apart from the competition and help increase satisfaction levels among your employees with the use of above-industry-standard benefits. Many restaurants tap the services of a Professional Employer Organization (PEO) to help them in this area. A quality PEO can help even the smallest mom-and-pop access benefits that rival a large restaurant conglomeration.

Oasis, a Paychex Company, is a leading PEO and specializes in helping restaurants succeed. We understand that retention is one of your top challenges and we have many ways to help you avoid the costs that come with restaurant employee turnover. Rely on Oasis for a complete range of outsourced HR services, including recruiting, onboarding, training, compliance, payroll, benefits administration and much more.

Explore your options with a free consultation from Oasis Outsourcing today.

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