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The Secret Weapon to Employee Retention

_ By David Cantu, Chief Customer Officer As CCO, David is responsible for sales and building and maintaining strong relationships with customers by engaging with them at all levels to collect and disseminate customer feedback throughout the company.   Employee retention and its arch nemesis – turnover – is hot issue for restaurant owner, managers […]

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By David Cantu, Chief Customer Officer

As CCO, David is responsible for sales and building and maintaining strong relationships with customers by engaging with them at all levels to collect and disseminate customer feedback throughout the company.

 

Employee retention and its arch nemesis – turnover – is hot issue for restaurant owner, managers and restaurateurs.

Our industry is known for high turnover – 62.6 percent in 2013 according to The National Restaurant Association. And boy is it expensive.

Did you know that the cost of a bad hire is on the order of $350.00 per team member? Now multiply that by 20 and you’re looking at a $7,000 investment in your new hires. But then turnover kicks in. That’s some serious dough walking out of your doors on a regular basis. ($4,382 to be exact.)

I don’t know about you, but that number makes me a little anxious.

And my mind immediately starts spinning: how do we win this battle against turnover?

I’ve seen a lot of different methods, but the one that just never seems to fail is the employee schedule.

The schedule, my friends, is your secret weapon.

Have you ever had an employee ask for a shift trade because they forgot an important event, like their wife’s birthday? Sometimes wives are more important than a job. I’m just saying … Your server is going to be a lot happier and way less resentful if you are able to approve a shift trade that makes his wife happy on her (very special) birthday.

So how do you use this secret weapon to your advantage? It’s a one-two punch. First, you have to make sure your scheduling managers (or whoever you’ve put in charge of managing the schedule – you’ve done that right?) have what I’ll call “scheduling competency.”

And then we have to give your employees freedom and flexibility so they feel empowered to (responsibly) manage their own shifts.

Scheduling Master

Your scheduling manager isn’t just a numbers cruncher. They’re crunching sales and labor drivers alongside team members who have personal lives, professional goals, mortgages and mouths to feed.

The secret weapon – and what your scheduling manager has to be a master of – is understanding a host of variables that go into making a schedule (and a happy employee).

They need to take into account not just bodies on the floor, but how an employee is going to perform based on their previous experience, skill level, hours worked and personal needs.

Here’s a quadrant view to help you objectively evaluate where your team is.

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You’ve seen it before. A manager repeatedly gives their seasoned team members the sections that make the most money. Every day, every shift, there they are … raking in the good tips and undoubtedly flashing it around to other team members.

Two things sound off an alarm for me. One, the manager is signaling that the rest of the team isn’t good enough or that he/she doesn’t trust or believe in them.

If they don’t think they’ll ever have a chance at making more money (which is also an indicator of their skill-level) they won’t stick around. Then, you’ve got to backfill.

Chances are you’ll have to schedule your seasoned team members for overtime hours because they’re the only ones capable of handling that much at once. Now they’re working the hot tables while handling two other sections. Can you say burnout?

The scheduling manager needs to be able to identify the up-and-coming team members who need a shot at the big leagues. They may fumble the ball a couple of times, but at least when they do get good … they’re on your team.

Flex the Schedule

The second part of the secret weapon: flexibility and freedom.

When you add scheduling software that gives your team autonomy, through shift trades, shift requests and time off requests (with a manager’s approval, of course) you’re allowing team members to be engaged in a conversation about their schedule in a way that doesn’t feel so top-heavy.

There has to be transparency, trust and accountability. Easier said than done, I get it. Honestly, fostering a transparent, productive and accountable restaurant deserves it’s own series and it’s something I’m incredibly passionate about.

At the very least, I hope you leave with this: The sweet spot for you and your scheduling managers is to think about the productivity and potential of each team member, ask about their professional goals, understand their personal scheduling needs, identify opportunities for them to shine. Then allow them to have some ownership of their schedule in a way that is systematized.

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