Restaurant Staff Retention Strategy

The more I ponder, wonder, and ask myself why my clients cannot retain their staff members for a long term period it puts me into a mental tail spin. The reason for this fatiguing of the medulla oblongata is directly related to the operators not changing their strategy. If you are consistently running a high staff turnover then you must ask yourself, do I need to start thinking about doing something differently?

I worked for restaurants and bars for many years and considering the conditions and business goals, I cant help but think that keeping happy staff is paramount to success. Yet owners and managers do not seem to see eye to eye with me. Yes, the money is good and yes, the job can be fun. But... we must think about the late hours, long nights, inconsistent paychecks, seasonal disruptions, lack of benefits, and general working conditions. This is not an easy job nor is it as glamorous as some may think.


I think of one of my favorite places, Rodney's Oyster Shack in Vancouver, BC. The place is packed all week long in an incredibly competitive food service market, the servers are 80% dudes, the bartenders are all dudes, and they aren't incredibly friendly, yet they are very good at their jobs (you would think this is maybe not an ideal mix). The owner pays them a better hourly wage and they work as a team and pool tips so the bad team members don't last. The place attracts the best talent and turnover is not an issue as the talent pool is vast.


Great product, great service and simple strategy = $$$


Think differently when your doing something bad... or do you continue flipping people, spending training dollars and losing unsatisfied customers??

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  • I have started a web based Employee Shift Scheduling tool - RestaurantScheduler - to help managers make accurate schedules that takes their employees availability into consideration, and their requested time off into account.  I developed the tool while working at a restaurant and it helped employees work when they were able to work and have time off when they needed time off.  It reduced scheduling errors basically to zero when making the schedule.  I think it helped make for happier employees.

  • you will never have a happy staff if cut out early to save on labor....cheaper paid employees get more hours than your more solid, higher paid ones and last but not least managers....most managers are just not cut out to be managers!   happy trails....

  • You see there are cycles.  Management sometimes tries to crack down when they let it get to out of hand in the first place.  Or, maybe they are going for a promotion or it's right around bonus time.  This is where the trend occurs also when people aren't aloud to speak up about different things in their restaraunt.  Alot of things in theory can be tried to forced down team members throats but if the management just asked their opinion they would not have a problem in the first place.  Team members deal with their aspect but management has to be stretched across the whole restaurant. 

  • Happy employees = happy customers

  • Excellent blog / article.  There's a reason that the restaurant and food service industries have 100% turnover, or more.  It doesn't have to be that way, and there are a lot of viable, and excellent strategies to help with staff retention.

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