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. Finding good employees is only half the battle of employee management – keeping them is the hard part. 

How to Retain 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. Here are some great tips on keeping scheduling costs down

When scheduling, avoid scheduling employees for back to back close and open shifts. Tired employees are unhappy employees and they’ll appreciate your mindfulness.

It’s also key to remember that employees have social lives outside of their job. Be flexible when you can and during the holiday seasons, firmly outline your time off rules to avoid scheduling mishaps.

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. Grow your employees to take on new rolls and help keep them for longer as they grow their experience.

Invest in Your Employees

Think of your employees as an investment. They’re the engine behind your business and investing in them, is ultimately investing back into your business!

Especially with back-of-house staff – they’re extremely hard to retain in the current climate of the restaurant industry. If you have a star employee, help them hone their skills!

Invest in classes that your employees can take, and help with grow with your business.

Award Longevity

Track how long an employee has been with you. Yearly employee reviews are a great way to reflect on your role as an employer. What made them stay? How can you improve as an employer?

Show your appreciation for your employees’ loyalty with a raise or gift after ‘x’ amount of time.  It’s a win-win situation for you and your employee. After all, hiring and re-training new staff can take longer and costs more money.

How to Keep Employees Engaged

Acknowledge Hard Work

Hearing recognition is what differentiates a good employer from a great employer. Recognition is free. Work is just work for some, but when your staff are going above and beyond, hearing recognition can mean a lot.

Let employees know when they’re doing a great job, or when clients praise their service or dishes. Especially when dealing with difficult customers, or getting out of the weeds in the kitchen.

Track Employee 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 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! Managing millennials can be its own challenge here are a few tips on how to manage millennials.

Tracking software like POS systems, clock ins, and scheduling help you automatically pull out people who are not performing as well as they should be. 

Conduct Employee Annual Reviews

Employee reviews are a great tool to gauge how employees are feeling about their work.

Clear lines of communication between staff and management are vital in improving employee retention.  It lets them know “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 poor work and happy employees are more likely to go above and beyond!

Introduce Incentive Programs

Create incentive programs for pushing new dishes or recruiting new employees. Host draws for the most items sold, most upsells or have FOH and BOH departments nominate an employee of the week. These are fun ways to get employees involved and have a little bit of friendly competition between staff.

They’re also a great way to track an employee’s performance and drive sales!

Get to Know Your Staff

More often than not, an employees workplace is their home away from home!

Employees like to know that you care about them on a personal level. They’re more than just bodies that keep your restaurant operating.

Employees generally work harder for employers they like. If they’re looking for a career in the restaurant industry, you can help them on their career path or journey. Who knows – you might be looking at your future General Manager!

Make Work Fun

Keep it fun – but professional. Foster a positive work environment by introducing activities like end of shift wins, or pre-shift concerns to keep morale up and encourage open communication.

You can also set aside a designated budget for a staff meal once a month. It’ll be a great opportunity for your front-of-house and back-of-house teams to interact and partake in team building activities like two truths and a lie or telephone! Employees are 12% more productive when they are happy at work. Team building activities like pre-shift meetings or charitable initiatives are another 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!

Show Appreciation

Two words: thank you. Two simple words that can make any staff member feel appreciated. It lets employees know that as an employer, you’re aware and appreciative of their hard work!

Always remember that your workforce is made up of people first – they’re not just your employees! 


Introducing technology into the workplace is a great step in restaurant management. 

If you haven’t already, the introduction of cloud based scheduling, automated payroll software or camera time attendance are awesome tools for restaurant management!