Strategies for Retaining and Developing The Restaurant Workforce

June 13, 2024

Retaining, coaching and upskilling current employees is a challenge, but necessary to retain your best talent and develop managers into effective leaders. This is especially true for the restaurant industry. Labor shortages are still one of the industry’s biggest challenges even 3 years after the start of the pandemic. Overall, 62% of operators say their restaurant does not have enough employees to support its existing customer demand, according to a National Restaurant Association survey. 

“Most restaurant operators will be actively looking to boost staffing levels in 2023. Overall, 87% of operators say they will likely hire additional employees during the next 6-12 months if there are qualified applicants available. ” according to the National Restaurant Association.

Hiring new employees is coming all the more challenging as time-to-hire rates have increased to an all-time high. As published in HRDive, “Jobs now take an average of 44 days to fill, up from 43 days a year ago, rising a full day across all industries during the first quarter of this year. Although some jobs can be filled in 14 days, many remain vacant for two or three months — or more.”

These trends are adding stress and pressure for HR teams already struggling to recruit and retain in the past five years as they battled the war on talent and the impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the workforce.

There has been a shift in what people prioritize and how they perceive work. Forbes found that employees want to express their opinions more freely, want a personalized work experience, care deeply about meaning, and want flexibility to work where and when they want. In particular, restaurant workers feel like there’s a lack of opportunities for growth. They feel like there’s a lack of effective communication. They don’t feel a connection to the restaurant.

This requires the restaurant industry to work harder than others to create cultures that value upskilling, professional development and team engagement. Improving relationships with managers can help employees feel respected and valued, and it’s no secret that happy employees can be a company’s best recruitment tool.

Three tips for retaining a skilled workforce:

  • Ongoing Evaluations
    • Gone are the days of annual reviews. Employers need to evaluate employees on a regular basis to keep them motivated and goal-oriented. This is an opportunity for managers to highlight an employee’s good work, as well as discuss challenges that could be impacting performance.
  • Professional Development
    • Professional growth isn’t just for management. If the restaurant industry is going to fill talent gaps they need to focus on retention strategies which include upskilling. Managers should work with employees to establish professional goals, then develop a plan for achieving those goals through training programs, mentorship and more.
  • Culture
    • The restaurant industry has to create a culture of learning that values employee growth. Employees need to feel comfortable talking to managers about their goals and trust that they will be supported to learn new skills for advancement and job security. Managers must establish a culture of celebration and team engagement to foster collaboration and improve employee morale.

Contact us today to learn more about our modern approach to performance management and development and how it solves for retention. Don’t just take our word for it, see what our Customers have to say.