Two kitchen workers prepare vegetables for service.

Staffing 101: Tame Turnover with Retention Strategies

Reduce costs and keep your best workers around by investing in motivation.

The labour shortage is real. Restaurants can tame turnover with retention practices that help keep reliable, high-performing workers.

Hiring staff is expensive. Scheduling to cover vacancies, recruiting job candidates and onboarding and training takes money and time. It’s actually less costly to invest in motivating employees so they will stick around. Here are 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 honor and motivate team members