Don Bye
Blog, Operational Efficiency

Attracting employees in the restaurant industry is no easy feat, and retaining them is even harder. Employee turnover comes from many places. From students who are moving on with their lives to employees who just aren’t in it for the long haul, let’s face it: it’s a fast-turning industry. It’s important to do whatever you can to retain your employees, and one way that restaurants have been accomplishing that is with better employee benefits.

You probably offer benefits to your full-time employees, but are those benefits competitive in the industry? What about your part-time employees, who make up a significant part of the restaurant landscape? If your benefits aren’t up-to-par, you may be losing employees to competitors. Here are some restaurant employee benefits you can offer to attract and retain employees.

Traditional benefits

Outside of the restaurant industry, people who work full-time expect a minimum set of benefits. Health insurance, a retirement plan, and paid time off are considered the bare minimum for any corporate job—and the same is becoming true for full-time restaurant employees, too. Think about it: would you take a full-time job that didn’t offer health insurance? If you want to attract and retain committed employees, make sure they’re taken care of.

Some restaurants are even offering basic benefits to part-time employees. In-N-Out Burger, for example, offers part-time employees and their dependents the option to enroll in health, vision, and life insurance, as well as paid time off and holiday pay—just like full-time employees. This policy has become so popular that jobs at In-N-Out have become very competitive.

Better meal allowances

This may not come as a surprise, but people work better when they aren’t hungry. Hunger is a distraction that can cause a number of issues, from miscounting cash to slower performance, and even missing work altogether. Offering a meal to employees who work a full shift is a good start, but it’s just that: a start. Most of us get hungry more than once every eight hours. Allowing your employees to snack can have a big effect on productivity.

A USA Today study agrees. While only 16% of people polled said that they received free food at work, those same people were 11% more likely to say they are “very happy” or “extremely happy” at work. And while this study wasn’t specific to the restaurant industry, restaurants are uniquely positioned to offer food to employees.

Continue to offer your employees a meal during shifts, but consider allowing them—and encouraging them—to eat during breaks, too.

And meal benefits shouldn’t necessarily end when your employees are off-duty. Many brands offer 20% off when off-duty at any location or a 50% “Friends and Family” discount for the employee and up to four people (employee must be present). These discounts not only encourage your team to eat at your restaurant, but they also can increase employee satisfaction. Everyone loves a discount!

Same-day pay

Your pay periods are probably weekly, bi-weekly, or bi-monthly, right? That’s the way it is because that’s the way it has always been. But with computer systems handling payroll, shouldn’t we be able to calculate payments on a daily basis? That’s what many employees are starting to expect.

Fortunately, there are multiple services that can make daily pay an easy benefit for employers to offer. Branch, for example, is an app that partners with payroll software like Delaget to give employees instant access to their earned wages. Branch also offers free budgeting tools, no-fee checking accounts, and debit cards—a major draw for many employees. Best of all, the service is free for operators and their employees, and the setup is simple.

Going above and beyond

For many employees, a better basic benefits package is even more attractive than free snacks. Starbucks, for example, offers medical, dental, and vision insurance, a 401k retirement plan, and paid time off—the “basics” we talked about earlier—but they also offer expanded benefits, like paid parental leave (including benefits for adoption, surrogacy, and fertility treatment), commuter expenses (such as transit passes), and 100% tuition reimbursement towards a bachelor’s degree. Starbucks even offers gender-affirming coverage as part of its medical package, including procedures that are traditionally considered cosmetic—a policy that is virtually nonexistent at any other employer, restaurant or otherwise, and which has made jobs at Starbucks extremely appealing for transgender people.

Attracting employees is usually a matter of pay, but retaining them often comes down to benefits. Are you offering medical benefits? Is it a good enough package? What other perks do you offer your employees? Would you be happy working for your restaurant?

If you take care of your employees, your employees will take care of you. Take a look at your employee benefits and think about whether it’s time to make some changes.

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