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Restaurant Staff Poring Serving Red Wine to Customers

Managing a restaurant doesn’t often come with a “how to” guide. If it did, it would have tips on how to be a good server, and include a thorough list of the restaurant licenses and permits you need to open. It would also include tips on how to hire and training your restaurant staff…. And let’s not forget restaurant staff retention.

Now we know a thing or two about the problem – high employee turnover – and the strategy for hiring and training the right employees is well-documented in many places, but it’s time to be sure you have the right retention strategy in place.

Aside from increasing pay and adding additional benefits and perks to staff, here are 5 employee retention strategies you can use today.

1- Measure tenure

Turnover rate is important, but so is the average tenure of your staff. Understanding how long your employee stays with you, in all positions, can help you understand what you need to do to keep people. For example, if your average server stays for 24 months, design your milestones for incentives around that… and beyond… to keep your employees motivated and retain them.

Understanding how long your employee stays with you, in all positions, can help you understand what you need to do to keep people.


Why is turnover is so high, what is the actual cost, and how do you fix it? Find the answers in our Staff Management ebook.

Download The Guide

2- Conduct “exit interviews”

No matter how hard you try, some people are going to leave no matter what. When they do leave, leverage their reasons to learn something new about how you can keep the rest of your staff. Ask them what their reasons for leaving are and what they think you could have done differently to keep them.

3- Implement “stay” interviews

For the most part, everyone knows what an “exit” interview is. Implement stay interviews instead. These are check-ins with your veteran staff that allow you to get a pulse on why they are happy in their job, why they remain an employee, and even gives them a chance to tell you what might sweeten the deal and keep them longer.

4- Identify stressors and eliminate them

 In the restaurant industry, stress is often high. For employees that leave or are unhappy, a common complaint is that they feel as if no one is in their corner and they receive minimal support. As an owner or manager, identifying the stressors in your restaurant is the first step to working to eliminating them (or at least making them more manageable). Talk to your staff regularly about their pain points and ask them how you can help.

5- Keep communication open

When was the last time you asked your employees to weigh in on things like scheduling, career goals, and training desires? Do you regularly conduct restaurant employee evaluations? The more open your lines of communication are with your staff, the better able you are to provide them what they need to stay, long-term.

Check out Upserve’s Guide to Staff Management!

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In a perfect world, Theresa would spend her days reading good books and writing all the time... and she'd own all the shoes her heart desired. When she's not on the hunt for shoes, you can find this Rhode Island transplant on the hunt for food that comes close to "Long Island". Her favorite? Caffe Dolce Vita in Providence's historic Federal Hill.
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