The Challenge of Transient Staff in Foodservice

How to keep the best staff

Staff turnover has long been one of the biggest challenges in the foodservice industry and something that restaurant and café owners face far too regularly. Many foodservice operators chalk it up as an industry ‘given’ – something they just have to grin and bear – as so many workers come and go with seasons or school and university terms. But it doesn’t have to be like that.

The loss of an employee at your venue is much more than just a change in staff, it can impact your business’ bottom line. Consider the time and money it takes to hire someone news, the shift changes that will occur once they are on board, the time needed to invest in proper training and the potential decrease in customer experience during this time. The cost of hiring a new staff member goes way beyond their hourly salary.

So what can you do to decrease staff turnover and eliminate these extra unwanted costs?

Pay them what they’re worth

This seems like a no brainer, but so many restaurants are getting caught out for under paying staff. Even without the legal implications, this is a bad choice. Inadequate pay is the main reason employees leave jobs. Make yourself familiar with the Australian labour laws and then ask around about average restaurant wages. Make sure if you value your employees, they know it.

Provide opportunity for growth

Over the past decade the media has driven an excitement around the restaurant industry (with the likes of Masterchef and My Kitchen Rules proving their popularity with several seasons). No longer is working in foodservice considered a ‘stop gap’ career. Now people are keen to learn more about food and have respect for those who work in the industry. But with that comes responsibility, if someone on your staff is trying to ‘make it’ in the industry you need to provide them with the opportunity for growth. A waiter is not going to stick it out for long if there is no obvious progression to a managerial position, and the same with an entry-level chef who wants to progress up the ranks. Regularly check in with your staff so you understand their goals.

Manage your restaurant culture

Any work team (whether it’s in foodservice or not) needs a good work culture. The unfortunate truth is that sometimes staff don’t get along and there may be conflicts or disagreements from time to time. It’s important to make sure you have a close eye on your staff’s happiness. Ensure you reward hard work and promote a culture of inclusiveness and support.

Brand your business

While we’re on culture, to attract good staff you will also need to ‘sell’ your restaurant as a great workplace. So, it’s worth thinking about how you present yourself to potential applicants. Do you offer training courses? Help develop skills? Communicate openly? Have regular staff events? Social media accounts are good for communicating what makes your establishment awesome (for customers and staff) as this is the first place they’ll look when considering a position at your venue. 

Of course, there will always be changes in staff, it’s unavoidable. But with some small efforts from you, you can create a workplace that no one wants to leave and everyone wants to join, which over the long run will save you time, money and a whole lot of stress.

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