Improving Your Restaurant Culture Can Alleviate Labor Shortage Stressors

Jenny Day
Jenny Day
Comprehensive Approach to Employee Retention
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Does your restaurant have a good employee retention program?

Every time an employee leaves your restaurant, it impacts your bottom line. This is why employee retention is important! There are costs for covering the employee’s work, placing employment ads for a replacement, and the manager’s time reviewing applications and interviewing candidates. Then there’s the cost of lost productivity and training the new employee.

Use this calculator to see how much employee turnover costs specifically at your restaurant. Once you see how much you are spending to replace employees coupled with the shallow labor pool, you realize just how important good recruitment and retention strategies are to your bottom line.

One of the most crucial employee retention strategies is improving your company’s culture. In fact, a cultural misfit or lack of culture is often cited by restaurant workers as a reason for their leaving; even edging out complaints about pay or hours.

Why does culture matter in a restaurant?

A strong culture engages and motivates employees. Employees feel more connected to the business and to each other when they understand why they do things a certain way, rather than just being handed down orders and instructions.

Not only does this philosophy impact staff retention and morale for your employees, but it also drives business. Customers notice the difference when employees are happy and motivated. They will feel drawn to your concept, knowing that you are operating with purpose.

Comprehensive Approach to Employee Retention

How to develop a winning culture in your restaurant

Break your vision into measurable actions

The vision you have for your business won’t mean very much to your employees unless you break it down into actions that can be assigned and measured. For example, a restaurant manager saying that they want to increase monthly sales to $60k does not motivate an employee to sell more.

Vocalize how each individual’s actions specifically contribution to the overall business.  Breaking larger goals into terms such as “Amy, I need you to concentrate on selling at least 20 steak specials over the course of this week” creates a specific goal that can be measured.

Lead by example

There is a saying that “managers have subordinates, leaders have followers.” A leader who helps the team and positively motivates others will build a stronger team than someone who simply oversees their employees’ daily duties. There is no better way to build a loyal following than being a leader who earns their employees’ respect.

Reward & recognize

You can establish a simple reward program where each week or month one employee gets a small reward for exemplifying your values. This can be as simple as a free meal on their next shift, parking close to the door for the week, or a $5 gift card at a local coffee shop.

Verbal recognition should also be given during every shift for employees “caught in the act” of living the culture. “Great teamwork for running those salads, Ben”, or “outstanding customer service on table seven, Laura” goes a long way in reiterating your values and boosting morale, and it’s free! On the flip side, be careful not to publicly scold employees for bad behaviors.  Pull them to the side and privately let them know how you would prefer they handled a situation if you were disappointed in their choices.

Conduct frequent check-ins

Bring out the best in your employees by providing feedback as often as possible. It is important to separate the conversations of pay from the conversations about performance. When performance reviews are conducted only annually for the sole purpose of receiving a pay raise, two problems are created: 1) the chance to guide employees toward constant and real-time improvement throughout the year is lost, and 2) you can’t get an employee to really learn about how they can improve their performance when they know the meeting is about their salary.

Share ideas

Companies with the best employee retention programs listen to their employees and ask for their ideas. Employees want to take ownership of the process of creating their culture and improving how tasks are accomplished. They may be able to help you find new ways of getting your culture to permeate throughout your business in ways that you have never thought of before.

Be sure to give credit to those who come up with new ideas, as the positive reinforcement may inspire others to share their thoughts as well.


A great company culture should be part of every restaurant’s comprehensive approach to employee retention. The current employee shortage has created the need for innovative employee retention strategies in our industry more than ever. Building a strong culture is a great addition to your employee retention policy and can alleviate labor shortage stressors.

R365 HIRE makes it easy to attract, hire, and onboard the best employees for your restaurant group and is part of the Restaurant365 all-in-on restaurant management suite that incorporates accountinginventoryschedulingoperationspayroll +HR, and reporting within one cloud-based platform. R365 integrates with your POS system, vendors, and bank.

Request a demo of Restaurant365 today.