How to Engage and Retain Restaurant Employees

Employees are the engine behind every business. Engaged employees are happy employees, and happy employees are committed to your business. In the restaurant industry, employee turnover is one of the biggest pain points for every business owner. Finding good employees is only half the battle of employee management – keeping them is the hard part. Here are the 5 best practices on how to engage and retain your restaurant employees:

Support a Work Life Balance

Inflexible work hours or poor management is a large factor in low employee retention. Its crucial to be fair in employee’s scheduling requests. Scheduling software is a great tool to make scheduling easy for you, and fair for your staff.

Supporting a work life balance doesn’t mean agreeing to every employees’ time off request or shift request, but understanding that employees have lives outside of work, and sometimes, things happen.

Make Work Fun As Possible!

It’s likely that if an employee is not at home or school, then they’re at work. Employees generally perform better when they are happy – in fact, employees are 12% more productive.” Team building activities like pre-shift meetings or charitable initiatives are a fun and great way to boost employee morale. Celebrating daily wins or tracking employee milestones can also be a great tool to let employees know that you appreciate them!

Grant Opportunities to Grow

If you’re looking for someone to take over some of your responsibilities, there’s no one better than someone who knows your business inside and out – your existing employees!

National Restaurant Association found that 9 out of 10 restaurant managers started at entry level position. As an owner, you should work to improve and strengthen your existing employees’ skill sets – it’s likely they’ll be the one to fill important roles within your business.

Think of employees as investments. Hiring new employees and re-training them can be expensive and time consuming, especially if your turnover is high. The time you spend re-training new hires could be spent improving your existing employees’ work performances.

Track Employees Progress

Introduce tools like restaurant HR software to monitor your employees progress. This will give you insight as to which employees are struggling and why. Have you provided them with all the right tools? Have they received the proper training? Paying attention to the behavior of your employee’s work will answer these types of questions.

Especially with millennial employees – Canada’s restaurants employ 520,000 young people under the age of 25.  By tracking their progress and paying attention to their day to day behaviors, you’ll have a better pulse on how to improve their skill set and help them grow!

POS systems are a great tool to track upselling specials from individual employees. During dinner rushes, you’ll be able to differentiate which employees are pushing specials like no tomorrow, and those who are not.

Conduct Employee Annual Reviews

Employee reviews are a great tool in gauging how employees are feeling about their work and they’re crucial in keeping track of employee performances.

Clear lines of communication between staff and management are vital in improving employee retention.  It lets them know that “hey, we’re here” and we’re happy to chat.

It’s key to consistently check in with employees and to make sure that you’re addressing any common issues that come up. Unhappy employees will produce in poor work and happy employees are more than likely to go above and beyond!


High pay or raises are only a band-aid to bullet hole solutions to workplace happiness. If the work conditions are poor, or unorganized, employee turnover is guaranteed to be high. Tools like Restaurant HR Software are great for managing your employees and setting them up for success. Good employees are hard to find and even harder to keep if they’re unhappy. At the end of the day, your employees are your ambassadors and their commitment to your business is key to employee retention.