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This post is sponsored by our partners at Performance Foodservice

The Labor Playbook

While the pandemic may be turning a corner, the restaurant industry is still feeling some labor pains. For your consideration, here are some tips we’ve been hearing to help you confidently hire and retain staff to keep business running smoothly.

Retain Your Current Talent

It’s important for restaurants to find a way to keep current employees in-house. This will not only help prevent frequent turnover but also keep your training costs down. The easiest way to retain employees? Listen to them. Hear their complaints, respect their suggestions, and change things up as needed.

Show Appreciation

Recent stats show 79 percent of people leave jobs because they feel unappreciated or undervalued at work. Showing your employees that they are appreciated can be as simple as a few kind words, company outings or trips to boost morale, or even closing up shop once a month to give all employees a break for the day. The most important part of appreciation is that it’s offered frequently. It may help to create a schedule or set calendar reminders so that you can make sure your team feels valued and acknowledged consistently.

Increase Benefits

The almighty dollar-per-hour wage is often seen as the gold standard for how “good” a restaurant job is. But if raising your current wages doesn’t work for your bottom line, consider what other benefits you are able to offer. Can you provide free meals during breaks? How about health insurance or tuition assistance or increased time off? And don’t underestimate the power of providing incentives or bonuses for loyalty and referrals.

Cross-Train and Offer a Ladder

Employees not only want to feel valued, but they also want to know there is a future for themselves in the restaurant industry. If team members express interest in learning more, embrace that opportunity and let them cross-train in different areas. A server can begin shadowing a bartender, or a dishwasher may start helping in food prep. And be open to sharing stories or opportunities about how to begin pursuing a manager or director position with the company.

Work-Life Balance

Many employees these days, particularly in the service industry, are juggling a job along with other stressors like school and childcare. It’s important to remember that your team members have a life outside of work and things like doctor appointments or studying for finals are going to pop up. Being mindful of this, and providing enough space for adequate balance, will help demonstrate that you are an employer who cares.

Embrace Automation

“Automation” is a buzzword these days, and while robots delivering food may not be feasible, there are likely several ways you can automate a few processes. Streamlining tasks will help lift some burdens off team members. Consider options like online reservations, order kiosks, at-table payments, and contactless pickup to not only make your operation run smoother but relieve some of the stress on staff.

Create a Respectful Culture

Permitting a work environment that is constantly full of conflicts, arguments, and negativity is the quickest way to lose staff. Embrace inclusion and diversity, and encourage your team to be their true, authentic selves. Employees who feel respected will also feel happier, leading to higher rates of retention and productivity.

Performance Foodservice has partnered with several OneSource companies that can help ease labor pains while offering resources to help restaurants find, retain, and develop the best people in the business. Visit our OneSource page to learn about staff solutions such as MyEmployees, Sales Stars, Always Food Safe, and more.

Laura Hennigan is a freelance writer based in the Midwest, with an affinity for local restaurants, dog-friendly patios, and donut trails.

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