Restaurant Association launches a program to keep employees in the industry

The initiative sets a career path that employees can follow for upward mobility, complete with certifications attesting to their abilities.
Photograph: Shutterstock

The National Restaurant Association has introduced a program aimed at keeping employees in the industry by providing them with a clear roadmap for advancing into supervisory and managerial roles. 

The idea is to establish a career ladder hourlies can climb into positions of higher responsibility and compensation, instead of bolting for better opportunities in other fields. The effort sets clear levels of proficiency, as well as the skills needed to reach the next stage of professionalism.  Participating employees will be presented with a certificate at each tier--Restaurant Professional, Restaurant Supervisor and Restaurant Manager--to prove they can perform at that level of ability.

Called ServSuccess, the initiative provides the educational resources to fuel participants' ascent up the ladder.  The employees also benefit from their practical experience.

"Restaurant employees will be able to use their years of experience to jumpstart their professional advancement by validating their skills and knowledge,” Dawn Sweeney, CEO of the National Restaurant Association, said in introducing the program at the Association’s annual convention in Chicago. “For restaurant operators, it provides the training and workforce solutions to grow business and service to their communities." 

Many restaurant employers have recognized the need to standardize the rungs an employee with ambition can climb. They’ve embraced the concept as an antidote to the widely held impression that restaurant positions can be a dead-end job. 

ServSuccess provides an off-the-shelf way of setting that ladder of upward mobility.

The instructional modules and interactive study guides were crafted to fit the time constraints of current restaurant employees, the Association says. 

The industry is scrambling to find more effective means of recruiting and retaining employees as it continues to grow. Over the next decade, according to the Association, about 1.6 million more positions will be created within the industry.

Research suggests that many employees have few opportunities for advancement in their current jobs. About 51% are actively looking for another position, according to research firm TDn2K.

The personnel specialist has estimated that restaurant employers spend an average of almost $2,000 to replace an hourly employee and nearly $15,000 to recruit new managers. 

Members help make our journalism possible. Become a Restaurant Business member today and unlock exclusive benefits, including unlimited access to all of our content. Sign up here.


Exclusive Content


In Red Lobster, a symbol of the challenges with casual dining

The Bottom Line: Consumers have shifted dining toward convenience or occasions, and that has created havoc for full-service restaurant chains. How can these companies get customers back?


Crumbl may be the next frozen yogurt, or the next Krispy Kreme

The Bottom Line: With word that the chain’s unit volumes took a nosedive last year, its future, and that of its operators, depends on what the brand does next.


4 things we learned in a wild week for restaurant tech

Tech Check: If you blinked, you may have missed three funding rounds, two acquisitions, a “never-before-seen” new product and a bold executive poaching. Let’s get caught up.


More from our partners