Employee turnover is a huge and costly issue encountered by far too many restaurants. According to the National Restaurant Association, industry turnover has reached 70 percent for the past two years. Even by conservative estimates, the costs associated with such high rates of turnover are overwhelming and undermine the ability for restaurants to truly thrive.
Although there are legitimate reasons why restaurant turnover is sometimes elevated when compared to other industries (i.e. temporary or seasonal employees, teen employees heading off to college, etc.), there are several assumptions employers make that contribute to or influence turnover.
Here are three of those assumptions that are worth rethinking.
1. Attitude Vs. Experience and Skillset
Let’s consider the following scenario. You have Candidate A who has held various front of house positions over the past eight years, and on the other hand, you have Candidate B who only has six months of restaurant experience.
Based on that information alone, you’re likely to lean toward Candidate A. But what I neglected to mention was that Candidate A was aloof for much of the interview, short with her responses, and wishy-washy on her expressed goals. Candidate B was enthusiastic, personable, and demonstrated a desire to learn and grow with well-defined goals. So even though Candidate B’s experience and skillset are minimal, her personality, attitude, and outlook more than make up the difference.
Worth rethinking: Experience isn’t everything. Most skills can be taught given enough time and energy, but attitude, personality, and drive cannot. Carefully weigh soft versus hard skills and experience and recognize that hiring someone who fits your culture may just make the most sense and reduce turnover at the same time.
2. Work-life Balance
Without a doubt, owner-operators put their hearts and souls into their business striving for success. But the absolute top business owners want their employees to find success too — both inside and outside the workplace. So while they expect employees to be reliable and performance-focused, they also don’t want a job or career to unnecessarily impede on their team’s health, happiness, or family lives.
However, there are still many owners and managers who believe a complete separation of personal and professional life is ideal and necessary. In reality, as much as people try to separate the two, life bleeds into the workplace and vice versa. The best solution frequently lies in establishing a work-life balance. But that is something that needs to be initiated and demonstrated from the top-down.
When employees feel like work-life balance isn’t prioritized by their employer, then disengagement and the hunt for other alternatives will inevitably set in. According to a Hay Group survey, 27 percent of employees who feel that work-life balance isn’t supported by their employers plan to leave the company within the next two years.
And when asked what is most important about work besides salary, 41 percent of employees older than 35 said work-life balance, according to a Comparably study. It ranked either first or second for employees aged 18 to 35 too, indicating how big of a criteria work-life balance is for today’s workforce.
Worth rethinking: Your employees want and need to find a balance between their professional and personal lives. They are raising families, trying to establish careers, and potentially caring for aging parents. When they find an employer who acknowledges these challenges and supports all facets of their lives including the pursuit of a healthy work-life balance, the hunt for a more flexible and understanding workplace will likely subside.
3. Generational Stereotypes
If you listen to the news cycle and some of the managers and owners I’ve encountered, you’d be led to believe that Millennials are responsible for virtually all modern workplace woes. But as I’ve said before, this isn’t the first (or last) time a generation has been singled out. And just like every time prior, it’s not always the fault of the individuals who have been fatefully predestined to a particular generation. The problem is often in how we’re trying to manage and engage them.
Just as we cater to our customers, managerial styles must be adapted to employees. None of your employees are pressed from the same cookie-cutter mold. What worked a decade ago is probably not going to work today. And that’s okay. It’s to be expected even.
Your employees each have unique interests, abilities, and opinions. So regardless of the age group you’re managing, compassion, empathy, active listening, and the gifts of autonomy and mentorship go a long, long way. When employees feel invested in, cared for, valued, trusted, and heard, they are going to want to stay put.
Worth rethinking: Be aware of the stereotypes that have been assigned to virtually every generation and age grouping out there. Think about how they may be unconsciously influencing your actions, motivations, and decisions. While it’s easy to fall for the media hype and lay blame elsewhere, it’s important to really listen to those employees standing right in front of you. Adapt your managerial style, try different approaches, and find ways to connect with your team.