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The Truth to Why Your Staff is Leaving You

leadership turnover Jul 20, 2018

The restaurant industry has never been a low turnover kind of business. In 2017 the industry turnover rate was 73%! Some fast food restaurants are even higher at around 150%! Holy crap!  Now back in 2007, the turnover rate was a whopping 80.7! So, as an industry 2017 was better. It’s just that most restaurant still suck at controlling the turnover machine.

You’ll hear catch phrases like, “the war for talent” being used quite often and the problem is that mindset. Maybe the correct phrase should be, “the war with talent”? It seems that as an industry we push people out of our business more than we do to pull them in. Here are 5 truths to why your staff is leaving you.

1. You’re not a nice person to work for.

If you describe yourself as tough, business minded, direct, no-nonsense, or a hard ass manager, let’s face it…you’re probably a jerk. You might dilute it with other words, however that’s what you are. Issue is your staff knows it to. People will tolerate a lot when they need a job to a certain point. Everyone has a breaking point. If you keep acting that way, you’ll soon see a steady departure of your staff. 

That Gordon Ramsay yell, scream, and demean your team mentality is great for TV ratings! It’s not very good for building a solid team. Culture does flow down from the top to the staff. How you treat your team is how they will treat your guests. When you talk down to them long enough (no matter how hard they need a job), they will leave.

2. They have to work with poor equipment.

Owners who do not invest in decent basic equipment for their team to do their job effectively is just a form of greed. Forcing your team to make due with equipment that needs to either be repaired or replaced is a form of mental anguish. Your team is under stress and pressure in a normal restaurant, try executing service with substandard equipment. It sucks.

Your team will make the best of the bad equipment situation the best that they can for as long as they can. Not fixing the basics and giving them the tools they need sets the tone that you don’t even care about your own business. If you don’t care, why should your staff?

3. They have to put up with poor performers.

The best performers on your team, hate that you will not terminate the poor performers. Those that don’t pull their weight on the team or are just the definition of negativity bring everyone down. The superstars have to work twice as hard to pick up the slack that the poor performers can’t.

Making your best performers do that, is added stress which at one point will make your top performer walk out. Soon you’ll be left with the bottom of the bunch. Then sales and service will suffer. Soon, you’ll be looking to either sell the business or close the doors.

4. No opportunity for growth.

When you talk about the up-n-coming workforce, you have to mention the millennials. This is the group born between 1980 and 1995. Here are a few things you need to know about them and what they want in an employer:

  • They want flexible hours. Long shifts are not attractive to them, so your need to offer shorter shifts so they can have the free time they desire.
  • They love technology. Most of the millennials grew up with mobile phones and the internet. It’s a part of their daily life so use it to communicate. Companies like HotSchedules understands this and has online scheduling programs and an online training platform built into their new product called Clarifi (you need to see this program because it is the future for running restaurants) that allows your millennials to understand you “get them”.
  • They crave opportunity. They are eager to expand their skill sets and amass knowledge. A top factor for motivating and keeping millennials is growth!

If you want to keep millennials around, you will need a comprehensive training program that allows them to sharpen their skills. Send them to an offsite training class for continuing education for cooking skills, communication skills, leadership training, or advanced beverage training (sommelier or cicerone).

Schedule a trainer to come in to your establishment and conduct and onsite workshop. There is really no reason you cannot develop a yearly training program that shows your team you are invested in their growth.

“Restaurants get better when the people in them become better.”

5. You did not appreciate them.

Two of the most powerful words in the English language is “thank you”. So simple and yet so many time we forget to say those words to those who take care of our guests. There is an expression that “familiarity breeds contempt” and it actually has merit. In Gestalt Psychology there is a principle called the Law of Familiarity which basically means that things or people that you are around enough you tend to take for granted. Think about it and you might realize that it is true.

When you communicate with your team, make a sincere compliment and give them a specific reason why you appreciate them. Make it personal because that it what they want. They want you to care. Be a decent human being for God sake! Stop treating people like shit and they might stick around longer than 3-4 months (which is the industry average).

You see that it’s really our war with our talent that drives them away. It’s how you treat the people who interact with your guests that makes the difference. Don’t treat your team how you want to be treated, treat them how they want to be treated. That goes for your guests as well.

Some forget that restaurants exist for the guests and not the comfort of the staff or owners. If you say, “I know that.” Then start acting like it. Turnover can be reduced significantly if you just stop acting like a boss and stepped up to be the leader they are looking for.


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