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What are you doing to keep your best employees?

The effects of the recession are still weighing heavily on many across the nation, but it’s become apparent to me – and not just me – that business is finally improving. I live in the Midwest and also travel for business, and I’ve noticed that the level of activity in restaurants and retailers seems to […]

The effects of the recession are still weighing heavily on many across the nation, but it’s become apparent to me – and not just me – that business is finally improving. I live in the Midwest and also travel for business, and I’ve noticed that the level of activity in restaurants and retailers seems to be increasing, both at home and on the road. This is great news for all of us in the restaurant industry – it shows that our economy is slowly but surely coming back around. While it’s still not what it was ten years ago, I think it is safe to say that things are looking up.

The increase in economic activity got me thinking about the kinds of trends that might start changing. Employee retention, while not as big of a problem during a down economy, is creeping back to the front of everyone’s mind- or at least it should be. As jobs start becoming more readily available, we need to assess what we’re currently doing, or could do, to keep our best employees from leaving for seemingly greener pastures.

I was interested in learning more about what kinds of things restaurants can do to strengthen employee retention, so I began searching for the most successful strategies for restaurants to hold onto their top employees and slow down that revolving door that our industry is notorious for. Based on my personal experiences and my research, below are my top 10 tips for employee retention for restaurants:

Select the right people first. I’ve heard that some companies have started using behavior-based testing and competency screening. The right person in the right position is a great starting point.
Team members want to enjoy their work. We should all focus on making work as much fun as possible.
Recognize and celebrate your company’s successes. This could be anything from important goals/milestones, employee anniversaries, etc.
Recognize excellent performance and promptly reward it.
Staff adequately. Match team members to revenue so that you have the right ratio of team members and sales.
Nurture and celebrate your organization’s traditions: Have a costume party every Halloween. Run a food collection drive. Pick a monthly charity to help. Have an annual company dinner or family event.
Provide opportunities within the company for cross-training and career progression. People always like to know that they have room for career movement. Failure to provide these sort of opportunities often leads to a higher rate of employee turnover.
Communicate with team members in meaningful ways. You may find that text, web, and other methods are appropriate based on the average age of your team members.
Enable team members to balance work and life. If possible, try allowing flexible starting times, core business hours and/or flexible ending times.
Demonstrate respect for team members at all times. Share that you value them as an employee. Most importantly, focus on listening.

In my experience, two of the points mentioned above are talked about most frequently: matching team members to sales and work-life balance. I would, however, consider of all them equally important in the success of any establishment.

Is your organization using any of these techniques? What other things can you do to keep your best and brightest employees?

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