5 effective ways to reduce restaurant employee turnover

Staff turnover in the restaurant industry is three times higher than elsewhere and is close to 70% in fast food. Here's a look at the most effective strategies for building staff loyalty.

Sophie Gaaloul

Sophie Gaaloul


Jan 2023

Restaurant staff management: fighting turnover | Inpulse
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The shortage of personnel in the restaurant industry is explained by its high turnover rate, which is three times that of other sectors. Staff turnover can even reach 70% in fast food restaurants. According to a study conducted by Pôle emploi, only 2/3 of restaurant employees have held their position for more than a year.

How can you retain restaurant employees in 2023 ?

Working in the restaurant industry can be a source of stress and pressure. Working conditions are often made worse by the demands of customers or managers, as well as by spikes in traffic and activity. It’s during these busy periods that the number of departures of restaurant employees is the highest. Establishments employ mainly young people, who are neither trained nor willing to work in such conditions. But this turnover during the high season doesn’t only concern new hires: experienced employees are also affected, which has a major impact on the performance and development potential of restaurant chains.  

The motivation of employees who remain in the organisation, and the dynamics of the team, are severely undermined by this phenomenon. The process of hiring an employee, including recruitment, training and adaptations to be made to accommodate them, costs between 15 and 25% of the gross annual salary of the employee hired*. The financial impact generated by the search for personnel should not be underestimated.

Inpulse reviews the most effective strategies for managing restaurant staff and reducing turnover :

1. Make onboarding a success 

The onboarding process gives new team members a positive image of the organisation. This reinforces their decision to join the company.  

An effective onboarding process benefits the whole team. It helps reassure new employees and guide them so they quickly adapt to their responsibilities within the establishment. This optimises the motivation and productivity of new employees and helps prevent voluntary departures. Onboarding helps strengthen employee socialisation, improve workplace atmosphere and build a solid corporate culture. To set up an effective onboarding program :

  • Announce the arrival of the new employee to the whole team beforehand.
  • Establish a personalised welcome programme with all the rules and best practices the new hire needs to know, ideally over a two-week period.
  • Assign a mentor to a newcomer (a common practice in the restaurant industry).
  • Train the new employee well on all digital tools so that he/she adopts them quickly, without making mistakes.
  • Communicate clearly about the goals you are setting for the employee.
  • Ensure that they’ve taken charge of their new role by the end of the onboarding period and that they feel confident in their new position.

2. Improve comfort and well-being at work

Harsh working conditions in the restaurant industry are one of the main factors that drive employees to quit. To combat turnover, restaurant chains can better manage schedules to improve the daily lives of their employees. Offering uninterrupted shifts, adjusting employee schedules to suit their needs and avoiding under-staffing are all good practices to put in place in your restaurant to improve employee retention.

Finally, recruiting a good manager is a necessity. Inpulse has interviewed many entrepreneurs and restaurant founders: they all agree that a competent manager will guarantee collective motivation. Human, unifying and exemplary are the qualities most often cited. But they must be able to concentrate on their core business of managing, although operational management - suppliers, stocks, performance analysis - often takes up several hours a day. Inpulse was created to help restaurant managers with this task. By using AI to automate supplier orders, managers can save more than 20 hours a month, and above all they can place the right supplier orders, even if they have little experience.

3. Involve employees in company performance 

Sharing performance indicators facilitates teamwork and helps raise employee awareness of the restaurant's objectives. This will allow them to measure the impact of their actions, and so involve them in improving operational management. To do this, you need to be transparent and make key ratios and indicators available, as well as the restaurant's financial targets.  

To fully engage them in achieving these objectives, some entrepreneurs are starting to involve their restaurant managers, as Valentin Bauer of Tripletta (11 establishments) explained during a webinar organized by Inpulse :

"Using tools like Inpulse helps raise awareness among teams. We do this with bonuses that are unlocked for the entire staff if profitability goals are met." 

Profit-sharing motivates restaurant staff, who redouble their efforts to invest more in their respective missions.


4. Use training to accelerate skill development 

According to the results of a recent survey conducted by CHD Expert, 38% of employees in the restaurant industry consider access to training as an additional incentive to stay with their company. 31% of employers also see training as a way to retain employees.  

Training saves company managers time and speeds up the development of employees' skills. A well-trained employee is more comfortable in his or her job and can aspire to greater career opportunities. This simplifies management of restaurant staff and reduces voluntary departures.  

New restaurant employees should receive training before fully taking up their post. Similarly, existing employees should also be regularly trained to keep up with changes in the business and new ways of working in the restaurant.  

The restaurant industry has long been one of the few sectors that allows all profiles to climb the ladder quickly: a degree isn’t required to take on responsibility. The Director of Operations at Comptoir Volant is a good example of this, as we discovered in a recent interview with Baptiste Lenglard :

"We have a real entrepreneurial mindset, I started as a multi-role team member five years ago and now I'm Director of Operations. It's in our DNA to help our teams grow. We want to write great stories, and it's personally enriching for us to see them progress. To succeed, we have to give people the means to improve their skills! With Inpulse, I can offer my managers a tool that gives them autonomy: it makes their lives easier when it comes to placing orders, especially when they're just starting out; it lets them spend time analysing their restaurant's profitability by accessing material costs and consumption variances; and finally, thanks to Inpulse sales forecasts, they can predict the payroll from one week to the next and adjust their schedules." 

5. Encourage employees and strengthen corporate culture

Many employees in the food service industry leave their jobs because of a lack of recognition from their employers. Turnover isn’t only related to the difficulty of the job, but also to the lack of empathy that employees sometimes feel from their superiors.  

How can you create a positive work environment that builds team cohesion and a sense of belonging among employees ?

  • Train managers to be closer to their teams, open to discussion and willing to find solutions with employees when problems arise.  
  • Encourage and congratulate teams on their accomplishments, take time to celebrate good news, and highlight employees who meet their goals and get involved on a daily basis. Restaurant employees need to feel valued.
  • Ensure that conflicts are resolved quickly to maintain a healthy work environment.

To combat staff shortages and mass departures, it’s important to establish a strong company culture. Organising team building, outings and days with colleagues are all ways to reinforce cohesion and develop a corporate culture.

6. Reduce turnover with Inpulse

  • Make managers quickly autonomous : Inpulse is a tool for automating supplier orders and driving the profitability of your restaurants. Regardless of the manager's experience, he or she will quickly be able to control material costs.
  • Better anticipate your operations and staffing : Many restaurant owners use Inpulse to forecast their restaurant traffic and tools like Combo to create intelligent schedules that optimise payroll.
  • Easily onboard your operational staff : Inpulse takes less than an hour to master. It’s a tool designed so that any profile can adopt it quickly. See for yourself how simple it is by requesting a demo from one of our experts.

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