6 Methods Restaurants Use to Retain Staff (Part 1 of 2)

Did your restaurant staff have a high turnover rate in 2014? Not only do constantly shifting employees spread your restaurant secrets, the time that you spend advertising, interviewing, and training new servers to replace them is time that you don’t spend growing your restaurant. I’m sure your New Years resolution this year is to improve your restaurant… but how can you do that when you keep having to resolve staff issues? Let 2015 be the year that you stop stressing out about hiring and start building a loyal, dedicated staff that your customers love. Parts 1 and 2 of this article contain the top six tips (in reverse order) that will get you started on the right path for you to retain staff in 2015.

This article contains tips #4-6; check out Part 2 to learn the top three tips. 

6. Praise Them with Honesty

Of course, you know that you should offer your staff positive motivation and tell them that they’re doing a good job, but the advice along this line tends to overlook an important point: Not only should you make sure that you praise your employees when they’re doing well, but you should also inform them when they’re not doing well.

For your servers, cooks, and other employees, there’s nothing worse than letting them think they’re doing an awesome job—then telling them they’re not good enough. Not only is that a sure way to make your ex-employees say mean things about your behind your back, it will also make your current employees nervous about their own performance.

Don’t forget the highest form of praise either: If you know that you can trust your employees, offer them autonomy. 

5. Excite Them with Information

The best thing you can do to retain your employees is to keep them passionate about their jobs. People in food service, like you, have a calling to get into this industry. Sure, there are a few of your bussers and runners who just need some scratch cash, but your older, dedicated servers and cooks deal with a lot of flak from society so they can follow their passion. After all, in the general public view, servers and line cooks are seen as unskilled, untalented workers—though you and I know that their jobs take large amounts of customer service skills, memorization skills, sales skills, balancing skills–and knife skills, too.

To keep those skilled, passionate workers by your side, you’ll want to keep them in the loop. Nothing excites an employee more than knowing what the business is considering, and what new changes will be taking place, as well as knowing what all the new additions to the menu are. Keep your employees informed, and you’ll keep them excited about working for you.

4. Comfort Them with Secrecy

This tip may seem backwards after the previous one about sharing information, but sometimes you need to keep information hidden from your staff. Extra information can excite your employees, but too much information will make everything that you share seem like a burden to them. (Don’t you have that friend who tells you too much? You don’t want to pick up the phone when he calls, right?)

Good things to keep to yourself are your restaurant’s financial worries and tax issues. If you fret about your finances aloud too much, your employees will likely think that your business is struggling—and they’ll leave in droves. Of course, if your restaurant really is having serious problems, tell your employees as soon as you possibly can. It’s a hard piece of news to share, but your staff deserves to know if their jobs will be ending soon.


If one of your New Years resolutions is to increase your business, you need to decrease the time you spend on employee issues. Save yourself the troubles of advertising, interviewing, background checking, and training new front- and back-of-the-house employees when you develop a work environment filled with honest praise and selective information sharing. Your employees will thank you by staying at your restaurant and performing well, and they’ll develop deeper bonds with your customers because they’ll feel they have the information and incentives to do so.

Here’s to your ability to retain staff in 2015!

Remember to check out The Top 3 Tips for Restaurant Employee Retention in 2015 (Part 2 of this article) to learn how to reduce your restaurant staffing issues in the new year. 

Photo licensed by Alan Light