A restaurant owner mentors an employee.

Escape hiring woes with retention strategies

Spend less time seeking new staff by keeping your team intact.

The foodservice industry recovery presents good news and bad news:

The good news: 89% of Canadians are looking forward to going out to a restaurant with family and friends again.
The bad news: The labor shortage is one of the biggest hurdles restaurants have as they plan reopening and growth.

A Restaurants Canada survey shows 64% of operators expect staffing levels to be about the same or higher than they were prior to the pandemic. With fierce competition to find labour, it’s more important than ever to reduce turnover and retain your best workers.

Hiring is expensive. So is scheduling to cover vacancies, recruiting job candidates and onboarding and training. It’s actually less costly to invest in motivating employees so they will stick around. Here is a reminder of some proven strategies:

Have an IMPACT on retention

Your intuition and business skills may not be enough. Use the IMPACT approach to engage employees and remind them why their work matters:

  • I — Involved. Deepen bonds by showing you’re invested in the team’s outcome.
  • M — Mentor. Guide your team through unfamiliar situations to build confidence.
  • P — Pay. Compensate them in ways that go beyond hourly wages.
  • A — Appreciate. Single out top performers publicly, if possible.
  • C — Challenge. Offer opportunities so people reach to perform at a higher level.
  • T — Trust. Create a relationship that encourages people to bring concerns to you.

Leadership enhances retention

Most employees don’t quit a job, they quit a boss. Retain employees by being a boss who balances being in charge and understanding human behaviour. Workers are more likely to stick around when you exhibit leadership skills like these:

Plan check-ins and evaluations 

  • Schedule performance meetings to track growth. 
    • Giving advice builds confidence
    • Listening to feedback strengthens relationships

Offer ongoing education 

  • Have open training for food, beverage and kitchen skills.
    • Paying for ongoing certifications invests in your team
    • Building their skills benefits cross-training and promotion

Connect with employees 

  • Yes, it’s a business, but it’s not all about business. 
    • Ask employees about their lives outside of work
    • Organize staff appreciation activities

Offer incentives

  • It doesn’t take much to show appreciation:
    • Offer a cash reward based on attendance or number of call-ins
    • Give bonuses based on progress and improvement
    • Provide a free staff dinner to everyone
    • Reward people with the choice to work preferential sections, desired shifts, or assign them to lucrative events, like parties or events
    • Create an “Employee of the Month” to honour and motivate team members

Ask your Gordon Food Service Sales Representative about “Staff Smarts,” our staffing guide to help you manage today’s labour challenges.