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How to better incentivize employees and reduce restaurant turnover rate


The never-ending need to hire new employees is an issue you likely face as a QSR owner because the industry continues to struggle with retention. To minimize this problem, it's crucial to give your staff a reason to stick around. Incentives and rewards programs are a great way to do this! Gift cards and money are the most popular, but you can incentivize your employees in many different ways. Here are some of our favorite ways to motivate employees.

Don’t forget the basics

Start by treating your team like family. There’s nothing like an old-fashioned, personal hello or goodbye for every employee, every day. Make sure that you say “please” and “thank you” whenever possible. Remember, you’ll be spending most of your time with your employees, so treat them well and they’ll return the favor.

Stay Organized

Everyone has their own schedule and their own life. So make sure you post the schedule early, keeping in mind your employees’ busy lives. If there are any sudden changes that need to be made, handle them patiently and flexibly whenever possible. Read our article on scheduling employees to get some best practices.

Did someone say "mystery shopper"?

Mystery shoppers give you the dual benefits of highlighting your best employees while also giving you a customer's perspective on day-to-day operations at your store. This strategy allows you to get a good idea of what your employees are doing on a regular basis and rewards employees that excel at the job.

Rewarding your top-performing employees based on customer experience can incentivize the rest of your team to turn every experience into an opportunity.

Create friendly competition

Who can sell the most of a featured item? Who can encourage the most customers to upgrade meal sizes? Who is the fastest at the drive-thru lane? There are plenty of ways to introduce a little friendly competition to your teams. Incentivizing metrics is an option that resonates well with many employees, giving them a specific goal and a clear reward for achieving it.

Reward your employees with things they actually want

We understand it's easy to reward your best employees with free meals at your store, but aim to provide a variety of unique prizes for various contests. Here are some examples.

Partial College Scholarships

Your employees' continued education is important, so why not contribute by offering a partial scholarship to your best-performing student worker? Taco Bell's Live Mas Scholarship program awards recipients with $5,000–$25,000 towards college. Carl's Jr. and Chik-fil-A have similar programs.

Of course, you don't have to start throwing around five-figure scholarships to incentivize your employees. A little bit can go a long way, and any amount you award will help your student employees with one of the biggest challenges they're likely to face in their lives: paying for college.

A unique gift

Everyone loves cash, but there's nothing quite like a personalized gift. Get creative and make it personal to the employee or store. For example, Pizza Ranch gives custom-designed Nike shoes to each crew member in the store that wins Crew of the Year. It's hard to put a price tag on the pride and dedication of an award-winning team.

Use your connections

You're a business owner, which means you likely have connections with other businesses or organizations. Use those to your advantage and provide your employees with one-of-a-kind gifts or experiences. Once again, Pizza Ranch is a great example of this. Pizza Ranch partners with NASCAR to put the Crew of the Year's store number and location on the race car and gives the team VIP passes to a race.

Exciting and desirable incentives can do wonders for your restaurant turnover rate. But that's not all. Incentivized employees are happy employees, and happy employees are engaged, employees. A high level of employee engagement leads to better all-around performance. From better customer service to more reliable attendance, a small investment in incentivizing your employees can pay for itself many times over.

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