5 Strategies To Reduce Staff Turnover In Your Restaurant

Adam Neveu
May 23, 2022
Male checking tablet in cafe

If you are a restaurant owner one of the most important metrics you should keep an eye on is your staff turnover. If the employee turnover rate for your restaurant is high, it can affect your bottom line, as the cost of recruiting, hiring and training can be substantial.

Some might say that it is just part of the industry and something you have to accept. We disagree – you shouldn’t have to accept turnover as a regular aspect of the restaurant industry, and there are employee retention strategies out there that you can look to adopt.

However, we first need to understand the challenges of remote working for our frontline teams. Once we do, it becomes easier to put things in place that allow managers to get the most out of the staff no matter where they work from.

It might be a long process, but when the culture improves, staff engagement will, too, and you’ll see a wide range of benefits.

How High Is Your Restaurant Employee Turnover Rate?

Before you can plan a long-term strategy to reduce employee exit rates, it is worth knowing how high your restaurant employee turnover rate is. By having these statistics to hand you will be able to determine how big a problem it is and what you should do about it. The cost of employee turnover will have a big impact on your business, and could determine what happens in the future.

To determine your employee turnover rate, divide the number of employees who have left your restaurant by the average number of employees it takes to fully staff your restaurant, and then multiply the resulting number by 100 to get a percentage.


For example, let’s say it’s the end of the busy summer season, and you just lost 20 employees. Let’s break this down in steps:

  • Typically your restaurant is fully staffed with 35 employees
  • 20 divided by 35 is 0.571
  • 0.571 multiplied by 100 is 57.1 percent.

This means your staff turnover is over half. Ouch!

Why Should You Try To Prevent Staff Turnover?

The short answer is because it costs you money and that will come straight off your bottom line. The margins can be notoriously tight in the restaurant industry and so you want to try and avoid as much unnecessary cost as possible. The cost of employee turnover can be better used elsewhere, in other areas of the restaurant and business.

There is one school of thought that considers employees as expendable but that’s just short-term thinking. If you plan a long-term strategy now to reduce employee exit rates, you’ll increase your restaurant’s financial performance.

Restaurants can be high-stress environments and the pay isn’t always great. These two elements together can lead to employee burnout and staff walking out the door. But there are ways to retain good employees.

Male Server handing over coffee

5 Ways To Reduce Employee Turnover

#1 Hire Right From The Get-Go

If you’re considering hiring someone who is ‘okay’, rethink. Build patience in your hiring process and hire the best possible person for the job. Trust us, you’ll reap the rewards. Don’t just consider their qualifications but also think about how their personality will fit with the existing team. This is especially important to lower staff turnover.

Consider the following:

  • Check their resume and pay attention if they seem to have changed jobs too often
  • Check their references
  • In the interview process, ask them what their short and long-term goals are.

#2 Increase Pay

Be competitive with your pay grades and pay well. One of the main reasons employees leave restaurant positions is the pay. Please don’t expect their tips to supplement their pay packet.

Pay more and you’ll keep the best talent. Also consider regular pay increases – even small amounts can make a difference. Again, this will encourage your staff to stay and lower the employee turnover rate. Even though a high wage bill will affect your bottom line, it will be worth it as you won’t have the same hiring costs.

#3 Train Them

Good training shows your employees you care about them and are willing to invest in their future. Provide a considered and comprehensive induction and orientation programme when a new employee starts, and then continue to train them on a regular basis.

Also, cross-train them so they are able to complete a multitude of tasks. This will prove you trust them and think they are capable of being moved into different areas of the restaurant. Again, this shows a dedication to their self-improvement and an investment into their future. It also means you have a more efficient and agile workforce.

Female deli worker

#4 Provide A Ladder To Lower Staff Turnover

Are your staff able to advance within your organisation? Provide opportunities for them to progress and they should reward you with longevity. Do your pot washers want to become trainee chefs? Do your waiting staff want to become sommeliers? Do your bar staff want to move into management?

Pay attention to their interests and offer them opportunities that will excite them. By moving them up the ladder, you will encourage them to stay as they’ll see a long-term future with you, which lowers the cost of employee turnover as fewer staff will leave.

#5 Thank Them

It’s a very simple thing but make sure you say ‘thank you’ to your staff. In the fast-paced restaurant environment, it can be something that slips out of consideration. But regularly thanking your staff will show you recognize their efforts and appreciate them.

Remember employee turnover increases when employees are under-appreciated for their hard work.

Lowering Staff Turnover By Improving Their Experience At Work

Ultimately, keeping your employees engaged and retained comes down to hiring the right people first time round, paying well, having an employee training program with clear career progression and an appreciative management style. The more improvements you can make to your restaurant, the better your employee retention will be.

You can support this by making sure they have the right tools and support on each shift. OurPeople can help, using their own devices to access a platform that includes company updates, training and development courses, shift management, and more. You can find out more about how we can help restaurant staff by speaking to us today.

Do you have any secrets to employee retention? How have you decreased your employee turnover rates? We’d love to hear your thoughts.

More Resources from OurPeople

How To Increase Employee Productivity Within Your Retail Team
How To Lead A Successful Team Onboarding Process
Small Business Operations: Team Management Tools To Increase Productivity

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