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3 ways to create a work environment that retains employees

Photograph: Shutterstock

Restaurant employees are difficult to find, and even more difficult to retain, in today’s environment of low unemployment and a growing economy. Workers often have what some operators describe as a “free-agent mentality”—a readiness to leave a job as soon as a better opportunity comes along.

According to recent research from the National Restaurant Association, 35% of restaurant operators indicate that they currently have job openings that are proving hard to fill. In addition, turnover rates have been described as being well over 100% annually for some restaurant positions, creating a costly dilemma for operators—either increase wages and benefits (and risk losing workers anyway) or incur the expenses involved in recruiting, training and lost productivity when employees jump ship.

Several studies have demonstrated the high cost of turnover, with one report from the Center for Hospitality Research at Cornell University estimating that turnover costs approximately $5,864 per person, and another report from research firm TDn2K putting the cost at nearly $14,000 to replace a manager.

There are some things operators can do to reduce employee turnover in addition to offering competitive wage and benefit packages, however. Here are a few tips for operators who want to make conditions in their companies more conducive to employee retention.

Offer opportunities for advancement

A recent LinkedIn survey found the No. 1 reason people leave their jobs is that they are concerned about a lack of opportunities for advancement, with 45% of people who changed jobs citing that as a reason. Open communication with employees about their own career goals and the paths available to achieve them can help both workers and employers better define their expectations. Offering training that helps prepare workers for jobs with higher levels of responsibility can help employees feel like the company is investing in their future.

In addition, LinkedIn also reported that lateral job movement could be as valuable as moving up the ladder for many employees, so consider cross-training employees for multiple jobs to help them learn new skills and make their work more interesting.

Invest in strong management

The second-most cited reason for leaving a job, according to the LinkedIn survey, was dissatisfaction with management. In today’s increasingly automated, high-turnover environments, training managers on people skills is more important than ever. As part of its ServSuccess training and certification initiative, the National Restaurant Association launched in May a management training program that seeks to address these needs. The Certified Restaurant Manager program includes, among other aspects, a focus on finding, hiring and training employees, as well as managing employee performance.

Automate hazardous or menial tasks

Restaurants, and kitchens in particular, can be hazardous places to work. Knives, open flames, hot oil and a fast pace of work all add up to conditions that can be conducive to mishaps. Consider implementing practices and procedures that minimize hazards, such as the Total Oil Management system from Restaurant Technologies. Adopting automated solutions for some some tasks can also provide other labor benefits. In addition to reducing labor hours, these solutions also can free up workers to perform more meaningful and rewarding tasks, or tasks that help drive sales.

To learn more about how oil management systems can create a safer and more efficient workplace, visit https://www.rti-inc.com/.

This post is sponsored by Restaurant Technologies

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