Ed Heskett
Blog, Operational Efficiency

For restaurant management, finding reliable and loyal employees is like finding reliable and loyal friends. It can be difficult, but once you find some, they’ll believe in what you’re doing, encourage you and others, and work hard to help you achieve your goals. This is especially valuable in the restaurant industry, which experiences one of the highest turnover rates of all (62.2%).

For QSR owners, the high turnover rate impacts time, efficiency, and profits. So, how do you combat this? Here are four ways to decrease turnover and increase employee loyalty.

1. Boost employee engagement

You want your employees to be engaged in their work. The more engaged they are, the better the customer service and the better quality work they’ll produce. But a Gallup survey found that only 32% of employees are engaged in their work. That means, if there are 10 employees working at your QSR today, it’s possible that only 3 of them are engaged (or excited for work and doing their best). And that just won’t cut it. So, how can you improve this situation?

Here are a few ideas for improving employee engagement:

  1. Create a company culture document to give employees a code to work by.
  2. Have competitions, dinners, and other fun events to keep employees excited about work.
  3. Remember birthdays, anniversaries, and other special dates, and celebrate with the team
  4. Use employee-facing social media to communicate with employees, train them, entertain them, and make them feel like part of the family.
  5. Cross-train your team members: Employees who are proficient in multiple positions and tasks are less likely to become complacent, and they’ll learn to be more engaged in the business.

2. Create an employee loyalty program

Many employees simply show up and do the minimal work required to sustain their job. This has been a challenge in many industries for years. But, rewarding employees who go above and beyond will inspire your staff to constantly improve. An employee loyalty program is a good way to achieve this and a good way to reduce turnover.

Here are some ideas for creating your own employee loyalty program:

  1. Choose the qualities that you want employees to show. For example, teamwork, customer service, and friendliness are good qualities to foster in your team.
  2. Set up a way to track who’s showing these qualities. You could put your managers in charge of nominating their employees or use a monthly employee survey to get nominations.
  3. Offer rewards that employees actually want. A special parking spot, a paid day-off, or a gift card could work well as monthly rewards for your employees.
  4. Have a clearly defined and posted internal promote process to show team members career opportunities and career paths in a great field.

3. Recognize and praise outstanding work

Positive recognition and praise go a long way in the professional world. Isn’t it nice when your boss tells you what a great job you did on a certain project? The same can be said for your employees. Positive feedback not only encourages your employees but it inspires them to strive for improvement.

Here are a few ways to encourage your employees:

  1. During team meetings, single out a few employees and mention how they’re doing a great job.
  2. At the end of the day, make simple comments to employees like “thanks for your hard work today” or “I really appreciated your help with [fill in the blank].” These off-hand comments can feel more sincere.
  3. Share pictures or stories of your outstanding employees on a bulletin board, social media, or some other public location.

4. Collect feedback from departures

Although you’re trying to prevent employees from leaving your company, it’s inevitable. Take advantage of this opportunity to learn about areas to improve in your QSR. Ask your employee why she is leaving. Is it because of the working environment, schedules, or managers? If it is, those are things you can change. Or, is she returning to school or moving out of town? These situations cannot be changed. The more information you get from employees leaving, the better you can make your company for existing and future employees.

Here are a few ways to collect employee feedback:

  1. Conduct exit interviews to understand your employee’s main reason for leaving.
  2. Speak with their manager to find out what they struggled with and had complaints about.
  3. Speak with their direct co-workers to understand if there’s anything else you’re missing.

Your QSR doesn’t have to churn and burn

Although a high turnover rate is a common problem in the industry, that doesn’t mean it has to be a problem for you. One restaurant brand, Lion’s Choice, is even setting records for its high levels of employee retention. The secret? Do things differently.

If everyone in your industry is following traditional practices and experiencing high amounts of turnover, then ditch those practices. Look toward forward-thinking brands and imitate the steps they’re taking toward better employee retention.

When increasing employee retention becomes a focus area for your brand, you’ll attract and keep better employees. This will reduce hiring costs, improve efficiency, and benefit your QSR’s reputation, which is definitely worth the effort.

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