Employee turnover is a significant issue in the restaurant industry. Restaurants experience turnover rates of over 70 percent each year and the average cost to replace an employee can be as high as $5,864.

A recent Cornell study estimates the annual cost of turnover at a mid-sized full-service restaurant to be $146,600. High turnover not only increases your expenses but also demoralizes your employees, making your situation worse. Here are a few things you should consider if you want to retain your employees and improve your bottom line.

Hire The Right People

Like most problems, preventing turnover from happening in the first place is much more preferable than dealing with it after the fact. All things considered, hiring the right people for the job is one of the best ways you can reduce turnover later down the road.

When hiring restaurant employees, don’t just look for skills and experience. You should also consider candidates’ attitudes, which may be a better indicator of their reliability. Look for enthusiastic and optimistic candidates who are open to work in a collaborative environment.

Finally, check your candidate’s employment history. Do they have a habit of starting a new job every few months or have they stayed at their previous positions for some time? Call their references to see if they’re the kind of employee you’re looking for.

Prioritize Onboarding And Training

Perhaps the most important period of an employee’s time with you are their first few weeks. During this time, your new employee will get a sense of what kind of employer you are and whether or not they can see themselves working with you in the long run. Therefore, it is essential to set your new employees up for success and make them feel welcomed.

Set up a formal onboarding process and assign new hires a mentor. A little effort in the beginning goes a long way in retaining employees in the long run. Likewise, you should provide ongoing training to your existing employees. If your employees feel that they’re working a dead-end job with little room for advancement, chances are they’ll leave you sooner rather than later. Conversely, if your employees feel that you’re invested in their development, they’ll be more likely to stay with you.

Encourage Communication And Feedback

A one-way line of communication from managers to staff is a recipe for low employee satisfaction. Employees feel valued when they feel like their voices are heard. Show that you care about your employees by addressing their concerns.

Have regular meetings with your staff to gauge their happiness and survey them periodically about their employee experience. Implement some of the changes your employees suggest. This will make them feel like they have more ownership in your business and contribute to its success.

Finally, have exit interviews with employees who leave. This will allow you to discover the reasons why they left and what you can do to prevent more employees from leaving for the same reason.

Show Your Appreciation

Last but not least, show your appreciation to your employees and thank them for their hard work. Most restaurant positions are thankless jobs, which makes it all the more important to show your employees you appreciate them. Your employees are much more likely to leave if they feel expendable, so make a point to show them that they’re important.

Consider starting an employee loyalty or an employee of the month program. Reward your employees for staying with you and for good performance. The incentives don’t have to be costly, a store or movie gift card will do. A little appreciation truly goes a long way, especially in the restaurant industry.

High employee turnover is widespread in our industry but it doesn’t have to be the case for you. As long as you hire the right people, provide proper training, encourage communication, and show your appreciation, your staff will be much more likely to stick with you through thick and thin.

Guest author bio: Stanley heads content at Merlin, a location-based job search app that makes it easy for job seekers to find jobs and for employers to hire candidates in various industries, including hospitality, retail, and transportation. Merlin is currently live in New York City and Chicago and is available on iOS and Android.

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