The turnover rate in the hospitality sector has been rising steadily for the past several years. In 2015, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the rate increased from 66.7 to 72.1 percent. This still isn’t quite as bad as it was before the recession, but it is unacceptably high for restaurants that want to operate more effectively. Why is the churn rate so high in the food service industry? What are the real reasons your employees quit? Here are some of the most common reasons your employees quit —and what you can do about it.
Six Reasons Your Employees Quit
#1 Bad Bosses
You may be a great manager, but not every supervisor working under you ends up utterly beloved by their direct reports. In pretty much every industry, having an immediate supervisor who makes life unpleasant tops the list for why people quit. There are many variations on the bad boss, from the bully to the narcissist to the micromanager.
All of these dysfunctional personalities drive valuable employees away. You may notice that workers on one shift quit at a higher rate than workers on another. That’s a sign that something is going on with a particular supervisor and may be one of the reasons your employees quit.
#2 Rollercoaster Income
Restaurant workers who rely on tips can see huge variations in their income from week to week. Employees often quit because of this fluctuating income. Many can’t handle the fluctuations in their pay and seek out work with a steadier paycheck. Tipping isn’t the only issue at hand. If you’re overstaffed, workers may not get enough hours to make their monthly income requirements.
It takes awareness and experience to be fair in your approach to assigning shifts and determining who gets the peak tipping hours. This is an issue you should revisit routinely to ensure real earning potential is competitive compared to other restaurants in your local area.
#3 Repetitive Work
Whether employees are working out on the floor or in the back, it’s easy to get bored doing the same thing every day. You may have educated, smart workers who find their jobs insufficiently challenging, making this one of the reasons your employees quit. When you provide ongoing development, cross-training, and a track to advancement within the organization, you are less likely to lose these rising stars. In fact, finding ways to make things fun with a little friendly competition can help keep everyone engaged.
#4 Crabby Customers
In the restaurant industry, servers can count on having some upsetting encounters with paying customers. Being able to handle sticky situations with grace and dignity comes with the territory. But no one should have to put up with verbal abuse on the job. It’s no surprise that awful customers are one of the top reasons restaurant workers quit. Management must be willing to stand up for employees facing mistreatment—even if it means losing a customer once in a while.
#5 Personal Life
Restaurant workers often struggle with the fact that they can never seem to get time off for special occasions. They may also feel pressured to come into work when they are unwell or simply want to have a more normal schedule. Workers who are going to school, caring for loved ones at home, or working a second job are severely impacted by irregular scheduling in food service jobs.
Practices that really annoy restaurant workers include: Short notice of shift scheduling or last-minute changes, split shifts, and having to go home before the end of a shift because someone over-filled the shift schedule. These practices are some of the reasons your employees quit. Juggling work assignments to make everyone happy is never a trick you’ll get completely right. But keeping things predictable whenever possible at least gives workers more control over their work/life balance.
#6 Physical and Mental Stress
The restaurant industry can take a toll—even on young workers. They may suffer from aching backs and feet from the physical work involved. But there’s also a lot of multi-tasking in a fast-paced environment that comes at a price. Make sure employees never feel pressure to skip their assigned breaks, and try to avoid scheduling too many back-to-back shifts even if a worker asks for extra hours. They need time to rest and recover to continue providing their best efforts.
Six Best Practices to Reduce Churn
Want to reduce your rate of employee turnover? Here is a recap of the top areas to focus on.
Look for candidates who don’t tend to job hop every few months. Double-check references. Ask applicants in detail about their goals so you understand whether they tend to think long term.
Encourage ongoing communication about what can be better. Use exit interviews and ongoing 360-degree evaluations to understand what is causing your workers pain—then make a plan to do something about it.
Help workers feel valued with everything from verbal encouragement to monetary rewards and corporate recognition programs. Build a culture where people help one another.
Review scheduling and staffing practices to ensure employees are not being over or underworked.
Make sure pay and benefits are at least adequate—if not above average. Remember, restaurant workers who find a good work environment still can’t afford to stay if they are unable to pay their bills.
From helping supervisors become better leaders to giving workers a more interesting place to grow, never forget to invest in ongoing development.
Reduce the reasons your employees quit with these elements. You should see restaurant employees sticking around longer and performing better than ever in a workplace that’s designed to help them thrive.