How To Hire And Retain Restaurant Staff In 2023

Employee retention is the capacity of an organization to retain its staff. Retaining employees is a complex process, and it requires ongoing efforts. However, you can retain talented restaurant staff with the correct practices and strategies. 

Competent personnel is the secret to building a solid reputation for your restaurant. According to studies, customers who form personal ties with the staff are more willing to revisit the restaurant for an enhanced experience. And the more you maintain your personnel, the more familiar faces your customers will see, and the stronger their bond will be with your restaurant.

Your staff knows the ins and outs of your restaurant’s process; they’ve become experts in their field. You’ve invested a lot in them, so removing them (or letting them go) would mean investing capital and beginning the new hiring program again. So, just like any other organization, you must retain high-performing restaurant employees to stay in the industry in the long run.

But how can you retain employees, and if you can’t retain them, how do you hire new ones in 2023? Let’s discuss. 

Challenges In Maintaining Restaurant Staff

Businesses have seen temporary and permanent closures during the pandemic, and a select few restaurants that were fortunate enough to survive the latter are having trouble finding and keeping talent.

Any restaurant’s success depends heavily on its operational aspects. Only when you have optimized your daily operations with qualified employees will you be able to serve outstanding meals and increase your clientele.

So let’s discuss a few common restaurant staffing challenges before discussing the best strategies to hire and retain staff.

  • Longer Work Hours: Even when others are on a holiday or vacation, restaurant staff frequently need to fill in. Employees today are required to work seven days a week for 12 hours a day to provide round-the-clock services. People can eat at the restaurant during these hours since they prefer to spend their day with a late-night meal and lunch. Sometimes it begins early in the morning by preparing meals and ends late after wrapping things up for the day. Restaurant workers are not only burdened by these extended hours, but their health is also suffering.
  • Increasing Employee Turnover: Whether you are a well-established or newly launched restaurant, you will say hellos and goodbyes to many staff members. Employee turnover is the total number of employees who leave an organization over a specific period. Employees who leave the company voluntarily and those who are dismissed or laid off are included when calculating employee turnover. One million of the 4.5 million Americans who left their employment in November 2021 worked in hotels and restaurants. This is a huge number. How do you change this? This increase in employee turnover requires a shift in the hiring process and how you develop and position your restaurant’s culture among the personnel.
  • Advancing Technology: The restaurant management software and other digital solutions can help you solve some of your restaurant’s workforce problems. Since the demand for dine-in restaurants has decreased, restaurants with limited personnel can profit from an online ordering platform to help them simplify delivery. However, adapting to technology can be challenging for your staff, which is why they might want to leave. 
  • Draining Workplace Environment: Post-pandemic, the restaurant staff have had to confront new difficulties like customers not following masks and social distancing policies. In addition, some pushy clients abuse staff members verbally and physically. If the restaurant managers don’t tackle such issues, the environment and workload can drain the employees. 
  • Minimum Wage: Restaurant employees have fought for a minimum wage for years. These demands have become much more substantial due to the pandemic as workers deal with economic instability. Additionally, many fast-food employees quit their jobs because they lack perks like paid sick time or health insurance.

How to Hire New Staff

You might be thinking about how you can possibly succeed in hiring restaurant staff, given all the challenges in your way. Here are six ways to increase the quality of your hiring processes and fill your restaurant with expert staff personnel:

  • Decide the Job Role: You must first establish which responsibilities must be filled before hiring. Your establishment will require a manager, shift supervisors, and back-of-house personnel such as kitchen staff, waiters, sous chefs, and washers. Depending on the scale and type of your restaurant, you may also need to hire bartenders, hosts, and security. In addition to determining which jobs you must fill, you must also estimate how many employees you need. Now communicate your requirements accordingly.
  • Highlight Job Description: The prospective candidates may believe they know all the requirements for your restaurant’s role. But a mismatch sometimes causes new workers to leave before they even begin. By providing candidates with a realistic job preview, you can ensure that prospective employees understand what the position demands before starting, hopefully minimizing early attrition and staff turnover.
  • Review Applications: Spend time reviewing the applications to understand the candidates better. Assessment should be based on the capabilities, qualities, and behaviors required for success in a particular profession. Before contacting anyone for an interview, complete the background investigation and call and speak with a few of the references. Another idea is to have a pre-planned set of questions for each opening when evaluating and interviewing prospects.
  • Choose the Best: The restaurant is a consumer-facing industry; therefore, your staff must have the qualities to connect with the customer. So, while interviewing potential staff, you should pay close attention to the candidate’s body language and interpersonal skills. Your goal should be to strike the proper blend of talents, previous experience, and personality. As a general rule, seek people who have a friendly demeanor, blend well in the restaurant environment, and are eager to go above and beyond to make each customer experience memorable.

Existing employees also play a crucial role in your hiring process because employee recruitment and retention is a circular process. Properly treating workers enhances a restaurant’s reputation, attracting more candidates. 

As hiring costs are high and current employees already have a stake in the company through relationships with coworkers, brand loyalty, and job experience, it is also more practical and economical to keep them than hire new ones. It is an apparent commercial advantage to build an employee experience that encourages people to stay longer, given that the cost of losing a new worker during the first 12 months is equal to two years of salary.

Best Ways to Retain Restaurant Staff

Given the labor crisis in the restaurant industry, you’d be sensible to prioritize the retention of your employees. Focusing on retention will not only help you retain your existing staff, but it will also help you recruit new, qualified employees in the future.

  • Offer a Flexible Schedule: Flexibility has always been vital in the restaurant industry, especially for employees who have care responsibilities and educational obligations. Your employees must know that you are tolerant and flexible if they experience sickness symptoms or a close relative or friend falls ill. However, keep these extra problems in mind and devise a plan for additional staff members to pick up shifts.
  • Incentives and Benefits: To attract and retain employees, provide them with an opportunity to earn more than their wages through performance-based incentives, which will help keep them engaged. Furthermore, giving healthcare benefits can encourage employees to stay with your business for an extended time. You may believe that providing these benefits will increase company costs. Still, in the long term, you will save a significant amount of money because your workers will be retained and bring value to your customers’ experiences.
  • Onboarding Process: Employee onboarding refers to introducing a new employee to your team. The onboarding process aims to show recruits how to do their tasks successfully and familiarize them with the restaurant’s values and procedures. Organizations with a consistent onboarding procedure report a 62% increase in new employee productivity and a 50% higher retention rate. During this process, you can also provide them with a handbook highlighting the critical aspects of the restaurant’s culture and their job role.
  • Build a Safe Work Environment: Giving employees a place to speak and connect fosters a feeling of belongingness and shows their efforts are appreciated. Disconnected employees, on the other hand, are more likely to feel out of the loop and overwhelmed with responsibilities if they are not kept up to speed.
  • Give Credits Where Due: Your staff will be more likely to continue working with you if they know you acknowledge their hard work. Whenever possible, publicly praise your staff personnel and value their contributions. Yes, this might be accomplished with a monetary incentive or sometimes even a handwritten acknowledgment card, which can have a considerable influence.
  • Highlight Growth Opportunities: According to studies, 24% of workers quit their jobs due to a lack of training and job opportunities. Employees are more likely to stay in the restaurant if they know the growth route and understand how they can get there. Giving employees the necessary training tools for growth and helping them align with future career goals helps them succeed, increasing their chances of retention.
  • Emphasize Restaurant’s Culture: Employee engagement at work is greatly influenced by company culture. You may promote a strong employee culture by providing growth opportunities, gathering feedback regularly, and enhancing communication between managers and employees. Good business culture can lead to higher productivity and job happiness.
  • Employ Gamification Strategies: Gamification, which aims to increase engagement, is the implementation of gaming components like contests, points, leaderboards, and badges in non-game settings. Your employees would experience a dopamine rush, the feel-good hormone essential to the incentives in our brains) when they receive points and badges. And it will help you keep them encouraged. Plus, never undervalue the potential of tiny wins to inspire emotions of accomplishment in your employees. The structure of the gamification training format guarantees employees get rapid feedback.

The restaurant industry is very competitive, and the available talent is shrinking. As a result, you must provide your employees with a friendly environment where they can grow professionally and personally. This is the key to creating the best workforce for your restaurant.

A deliberate, well-thought-out strategy that makes the most of your assets can enable you to succeed during and after the labor shortage.

You cannot influence how long the shortage of restaurant staffing will continue or which restaurant roles will be most affected. However, you can control your approach to recruiting and retaining the best of your house staff.


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Daniel McCarthy is a seasoned restaurant consultant and serves as the Communication Manager at Restroworks, a prominent F&B SaaS company. Drawing from his vast knowledge of leveraging innovative technological solutions, Daniel excels at enhancing restaurant operations and revenue, thereby contributing to the ongoing transformation of the industry.


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