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How technology can help retain restaurant employees

November 4, 2019
5 minute read
Last updated November 4, 2019

How technology can help retain restaurant employees

By Clayton Courtney November 4, 2019

When it comes to retaining restaurant employees, the struggle is real. People quit on the spot. Managers get stuck having to find a last-minute replacement (or filling in themselves). Employees grumble as they’re forced to take on more hours until a new hire is found and trained. 

It makes you wonder: Is there a better way of doing things so people stay?

Keep reading to learn how technology can solve high turnover in restaurants.

Turnover is a common issue for restaurants.

If you thought turnover was a struggle unique to your restaurant, you’re not alone. The turnover rate in the hospitality industry is at a post-recession high of 74.9%

A study by 7shifts found that the average tenure of a server is one month and 26 days. Yet not all crew members leave within this timeframe. The same study noted that the average host leaves 39 days into the job—and bartenders exit after 71-73 days. 

With turnover rates at historic highs—and employees leaving so close to starting—what’s a manager to do?

Why your job ad is attracting the wrong people

Check in more frequently.

New hires need support. Beyond onboarding and orientation, they need someone to check in and make sure they’re on track. They need a personal connection and a sense of belonging.

Unfortunately, a Toast report found that only 36% of restaurant managers give a formal 30-day check-in.

In fairness, as a manager, you have a lot of people to keep track of and a lot of responsibilities on your plate. It can seem next to impossible to remember each employee’s start date and when they’re due for a check-in.

That’s where technology can help. Companies like 7shifts and ShiftOne offer apps that streamline employee feedback, boost engagement, and manage team communications. Using these apps, you can:

  • Set automatic alerts customized to the position.
  • Develop personalized alerts for seasonal staff.
  • See data that shows which employees are at risk for churn.

The data these platforms collect can also help you identify patterns and opportunities to improve attrition rates.

Note: Technology should be used in addition to regular 1:1 meetings. As the 2019 People Management Report found, manager ratings increase based on the frequency of in-person check-ins.

restaurant managers who meet more often with employees are rated better

Target crew members at key times to reduce turnover.

The 2019 Employee Engagement Report found that one of the top 10 reasons employees wanted to leave their company was lack of growth opportunities. Without room for growth, many employees become demotivated.

Try combining data from your restaurant management program and employee engagement apps to flag at-risk employees and get your team involved before they turn in their notice. For example, you might try customizing performance reviews. The 30-, 60-, and 90-day milestones are crucial. Set up reminders for management and staff to have a face-to-face meeting. Managers should ask: Are you satisfied with your role? Are your skills being utilized? What would you like to get better at?

You might also pinpoint prime times for turnover, then use apps to gamify the employee experience and target crew members before they start job hunting. Let’s say your average dishwasher is employed for 42 days. That means that less than 12 days after a formal review, they’ve secured a new job. After the review, offer an incentive for reaching the next milestone. It could be an extra day off, priority scheduling, or a pay increase. The point is to get them to the next milestone.

By leveraging technology to track employee engagement, performance, and turnover, you develop a data-informed sixth sense about when your employees are about to leave—so you can take action to keep them. 

Leverage training apps for engagement.

Smart technology applications onboard new employees with ease. Rachel Bitte, Chief People Officer at Jobvite, was quoted by Forbes saying, “It’s so critical for companies to take the interview and onboarding processes seriously because understanding what a candidate wants out of a job and setting them up for success in the beginning clearly has long-term effects.”

Gone are the days of sitting in a back room watching a small TV screen about back-of-house safety. Apps like Typsy and ServSafe allow you to choose training templates or create your own customized training. Technology allows you to gamify the onboarding experience, making it more engaging to learn. It also allows you to streamline and offer continuous learning opportunities for all your employees—no matter how long they’ve been with you. This opportunity to learn and grow plays a key role in employee engagement.

Use personalized coaching as an employee retention technique.

Developing a coaching culture increases employee retention rates. Tom Crosby, CEO at Pal’s Sudden Service, told Harvard Business Review, “We have formalized a teaching culture. We teach and coach every day.” The result is turnover that’s “one-third the industry average.” And the annual turnover among Crosby’s assistant managers is an incredible 1.4%. 

The key to successful coaching is understanding your employees and what drives them. The Predictive Index® helps you can gain greater insight into what motivates your employees and how to best manage them. The Predictive Index platform offers personalized behavioral reports and coaching guides to help managers tailor their management style to how their employees work best.

With the aid of technology, you can strengthen your employee retention techniques to save money while building a loyal and engaged staff. 

Boost employee engagement with PI.

Learn the keys to creating a culture of engagement.

Book a demo


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