Pro Tips for Restaurant Staff Motivation in an Age of High Turnover

Two chefs in a commercial kitchen, working together with dedication and passion.
Ayseli İzmen
Ayseli İzmen
June 22, 2022

For restaurant and food business owners, the great resignation isn’t new. High staff turnover has always been a not-so-proud part of the industry so much so that people joke around about having to go back to their fast-food jobs if the stock market crashes.

The stats get even more depressing with staff turnover flirting with the 100% levels. According to an example published in a CNBC News article, a specific fast-food bakery franchise loses close to 100% of workers every year, and by fast-food industry standards, that is considered good. Not cute nor productive...

Mind you, the opposite is also possible. The bakery that sells the most bagels in NYC hasn’t lost an employee in 12 years.

At the end of the day, restaurant jobs pay student loans and feed families, if anything. It isn’t necessarily true that jobs in a certain industry have to be disposable. Chefs, kitchen staff, staff management, and experienced wait staff are valuable restaurant and food business professionals.

We, therefore, would like to argue and provide pro tips about how to break free from the high turnover cycle, something that has sadly been accepted as is.

Build a great reputation

Reputation isn’t just something built over customer reviews. Your restaurant or food business also has a reputation among possible candidates who may or may not want to work for you because of it.

It’s an equation that resembles a fine recipe with a pinch of workplace culture, fair wages matching skill and experience, mutual respect, a fun working environment, and reward for the hard-working and the dedicated.

Honestly, don’t expect candidates to crowd your email with their resume if you are seen as a disposable, last-resort workplace.

Remember that your time and that of your higher-paid managers are valuable. If you sit down and do the math between providing better-than-average pay and/or conditions for the right people and the time spent searching for and training a high turnover of minimum-wage employees who will leave the instant they find something better, you’ll see what is meant. This is called the cost of turnover, and it can reach damaging levels and thus should not be underestimated.

To sum it up, if you don’t want the high turnover headache, don’t be the last resort for job seekers. Work on your reputation to find people who will help you, not to let you down. Ideally, you would want job seekers to compete to work for you (and for a long time) because of one reason or another. It is your job to create those reasons.

Work with a reliable staffing agency

If you have already tried it all, but the staffing problem won’t leave you alone, things might get worse. Restaurant owners and managers spend hours advertising for staff, going through resumes, and interviewing candidates. Not to mention hours of training once you finally meet the right person and the time spent on staff motivation. If you find yourself in this vicious cycle, maybe it's time to change something.

What we are looking for here is a solution. You may have tried to offer great wages along with bonuses, create a fun working culture, etc., and things may have still not worked out for you. When that is the case, just stop doing it.

Let’s name one of the many solutions that will save you further anxiety: find a reliable restaurant staffing or recruitment agency that specializes in the industry. Push them to their limits to guarantee up to 3 free changes per year for a certain position without any extra commission if the person they placed at your restaurant resigns or becomes dissatisfied with their work before one year of service.

There’s always something that works when nothing else does. Restaurant staff motivation is no different when thinking outside the box.

Put Your Smart Hat On

You don’t always have to do as they do but do follow up on what the big players are investing in. To save you time, we will just reveal that they are investing in technology. Especially in the fast-food segment, machinery, technology, and robotics are king. There wouldn’t be enough bread or noodles for the world’s population if we were to still knead the dough by hand.

That said, if you have never heard of a dark kitchen or vending machine restaurants in Japan that are able to produce quality food, you have now.

The food tech that suits your needs and boosts your productivity while reducing stress on high staff turnover doesn’t have to be creepy, though.

You can achieve speedy staff evaluation and real-time customer feedback by simply automating these aspects of your operation. In other words, you will be delegating tasks along these lines to a software-based tool.

FineDine is a great example that comes to mind to improve different aspects of your food business, including staff turnovers. As a result, your staff will have more time for human connection, i.e. hospitality, less human error, and more job satisfaction.

FineDine’s mobile ordering and fast checkout increase average order value by 20%, save 15 minutes per table, and generate 40% more tips. When employees are happy, everybody is happy in the harmony well balanced between technology and the human touch.

Tech tools like FineDine, with a direct connection to stock, menus, and prices, may have a great impact on your employees being more cheerful, and productive, not to mention that they will stick around longer. Moreover, FineDine’s QR Menu offers a unique experience and easy navigation to your customers. It is no secret that the digital menu has become the standard and that a digital restaurant menu incurs no costs to change as often as you wish.

Hope these tips brought some insight into the high turnover dilemma. After all, if it is to your advantage to introduce technology and automated systems to your food business, why wouldn’t you?