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Beyond the plate: Nurturing your Restaurant’s Greatest Asset – Its people – 10 Strategies

By December 2, 2023No Comments

Beyond the plate: Nurturing your Restaurant’s Greatest Asset – Its people – 10 Strategies

Submitted by:  Food & Beverage/Hospitality Industry Leader at Marsh McLennan Agency Richard Hartman


The restaurant industry is renowned for its fast-paced, dynamic environment, offering unique challenges and opportunities for employees and managers alike. However, the industry also grapples with high turnover rates and retention challenges. With the rise of remote work in other sectors, the restaurant industry has had to adapt and compete for talent. More employees now seek flexible schedules, better benefits, and opportunities for professional growth, making it essential for restaurants to evolve their practices. In a world where workforce expectations are shifting, and wellness has become a top priority, restaurant businesses must find innovative ways to attract and retain top talent.

Here are 10 strategies that can help transform your business into a desirable place to work while also addressing the specific pain points of the restaurant industry:

Competitive compensation and benefits

Restaurants often struggle to compete with giant corporations when it comes to compensation and benefits. To attract and retain top talent, offering competitive wages, employee benefits, and flexible working arrangements is essential. Employees in the restaurant industry often work long hours, including evenings and weekends. Consider offering additional incentives like overtime pay, performance bonuses, and health care benefits.

Employee wellness programs

Given the industry’s demanding nature, prioritizing employee well-being is crucial. Provide access to wellness programs, including telemedicine, behavioral services, and employee assistance programs (EAP). Offering these services can help employees manage stress and maintain a healthy work-life balance. Physically and mentally healthy teams tend to be more productive and committed, reducing turnover and improving the customer experience.

Transparent communication

Clear and is vital in the restaurant industry, where miscommunication can lead to errors and frustration. Ensure employees know their roles and responsibilities and provide regular feedback and performance reviews. Encourage an atmosphere where employees feel comfortable expressing their concerns and suggestions. This fosters a sense of belonging and engagement.

Training and development

Invest in training and development opportunities to help your employees grow and advance in their careers. This could include culinary courses, management training, or even tuition reimbursement for higher education. You’ll build a loyal team for your restaurant by nurturing their skills and ambitions.

Flexible scheduling

One of the unique challenges in the restaurant industry is the irregular hours and unpredictable shifts. Offering flexible scheduling, where employees can request preferred shifts or days off, helps improve work-life balance. Implementing scheduling software can make it easier to accommodate these requests while ensuring smooth operations.

Recognition and rewards

Recognizing and rewarding hard work and dedication is a key to supporting employee morale and retention. Implement an employee recognition program that acknowledges outstanding performance, teamwork, and customer service.

Work-life balance

Maintaining a healthy work-life balance in a fast-paced restaurant environment can be challenging. Encourage employees to use their paid time off and create a culture that values time spent with family and friends. Providing additional time off during slow seasons can also contribute to a more balanced life for your team.

Staff meals and discounts

Employees in the restaurant industry often have a deep passion for food and beverages. Offer staff meals during shifts and discounts on menu items when off-duty. This provides tangible benefits and creates a sense of belonging and pride in the workplace.

Career progression paths

Outline clear career progression paths for your employees, from line cooks to sous chefs and servers to managers. Offering opportunities for advancement within your restaurant can motivate your team and reduce turnover by giving employees a sense of purpose and a long-term vision for their careers.

Employee input and involvement

Involve your employees in decision-making processes and problem-solving. They often have invaluable insights on improving operations, streamlining processes, and enhancing the overall work environment. By actively seeking their input, you empower them to take ownership of their roles and the restaurant’s success.

The pandemic has brought a renewed focus on employee wellness. Providing resources for mental and physical well-being is crucial in the restaurant industry, where high-stress situations and long hours are standard. Telemedicine, behavioral services, and EAPs are increasingly important. They allow employees to access care solutions whenever and wherever they need them.

Attracting and retaining top talent in the restaurant industry requires a proactive approach that addresses the unique challenges and opportunities within the field. You can create a workplace that stands out by offering competitive compensation, prioritizing wellness, fostering transparent communication, providing training and development, offering flexible scheduling, and recognizing employee contributions.

Restaurant business owners who understand the shifting workforce expectations and emphasize the importance of employee well-being will attract the best talent and ensure that their team remains committed and engaged.

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