One of the restaurant industry's biggest problems is staff retention, whether it's cleaning staff, waiters, chefs or managers. Pay scales vary with the nature of job, but working hours pretty much remain the same for most—and they are long. Sometimes really long. Working at a restaurant isn't easy and that's why it's not the most sought after industry for employment either. Regardless, you must not forget that you're building a team here. A team that will help your business run and grow. It's crucial to hire and retain really good people to work at your restaurant with you. After all, you're going to be spending most of your time with them.
Getting it right the first time
If you're going to build a workforce that will help you run your operations smoothly, hire right the first time. If that doesn't sound right, just put together the cost of hiring, rehiring and everything in between.
Hiring right means you will need put in time and effort. If you rush through the process, you will be stuck in a loop of hiring and rehiring—unless you get lucky, of course. In order to meet deadlines of opening the restaurant, it's easy to overlook staff hiring and to assume you'll fix the problem later. Every job in the restaurant is important and deserves the right person to do it. If you hire right, most of your staff issues are sorted.
Within the process of hiring right, you should get a few basic checks done. One of the most important things that's often overlooked is references. References are essential to verify and validate the candidate's credentials. It isn't enough just to see them on résumés or hear about them. You need to actually verify them by calling their old bosses. Delivery staff, too, should most certainly come with references, given the nature of their job. Don't outsource this task to anyone else. Own it and be responsible for it.
If you have some members in your team who aren't trained for the job, it sure is a pain point. But then again, it depends on the job. For instance, you can't and shouldn't hire an untrained or inexperienced head chef. On the other hand, you could hire waiting staff with less or no experience and get them trained on the job. That's a gamble that could pay off.
People quit jobs for various reasons and they do so frequently, too. One of the biggest reasons is, no prizes for guessing, money. Others include long hours, no training, too much being expected of them and so on. It's a tough job and not everyone is cut out to make it in this industry. Whatever the nature of the job, it's essential for employees to know what they're getting into from day one. Set the expectations right when they're hired so there's no room for ambiguity later on. If they still choose to go, there no point fretting over it.
Today, even major corporates have employee retention programs. It goes to show that attrition is a real problem everywhere. An industry as unorganized as the restaurant one can't have a "retention program" per say but that doesn't mean you don't work towards getting your employees to stay.
This isn't where you pull your purse strings. Not having a big budget isn't an excuse to underpay your staff. Ensure they're paid well and as per industry standards. It isn't new for staff to jump jobs for a measly salary hike. The least you can do is pay them fairly.
Once someone is hired, you need to make sure they're trained for the job. If you have already hired trained staff, good on you. If not, invest effort and time into their training. It pays off a great deal later. When they know what they need to do and acquire the skills for it, the job gets done well. This increases efficiency and overall morale of the team. It doesn't stop here though. One of the ways to keep your team motivated is to cross-train them in other aspects of the restaurant so they pick up new skills and can be shuffled around so work isn't monotonous.
Having mentioned all these points, the most important of all is respect. Everyone deserves it. Every member of your staff should be treated well and respectfully. Even if you don't have the time to appreciate their work, the least you can do is treat them with respect and see how they return the same with gratitude. You might be their boss, but you're building your business with their hard work. And you can't put a price on that.