Through our hiring process, we’ve recruited some great employees to our team – some real go-getters with a great attitude who will make us proud.

The question is, how do we keep them? Perhaps we’ve lost some of our best people or we’re hearing rumors about employees wanting to quit. Maybe we just want to ensure it doesn’t happen to us.

The reality is that sometimes people quit, but we don’t want to be the reason for it. This is especially true in our industry where staff seemingly come and go like a revolving door.

Of course, there are restaurants where this happens more often than it should, and those businesses are losing a lot more than just their staff.

Staff retention has everything to do with valuing our employees. If we don’t value them, we will lose them. Losing too many of our employees means having to re-hire and re-train more often than we’d like, but there is usually an even bigger underlying problem.

The key is to avoid those problems before they happen. Following these steps will guarantee that our employees feel valued and keep them from looking for other jobs, as well.

Praise and Validate

I’ve seen, first hand, an MVP employee walk away from her job because she was sick of being undervalued by the management team. From her point of view, they put all their energy into new employees and completely shut out great servers who already knew the ropes of the business.

In the following month, three more servers suddenly left the business after that MVP employee had put in a good word for them at her new restaurant.

Any business who takes their staff for granted is probably not doing enough for them.

There are a few easy ways we can ensure we are praising our employees – especially the ones who have been with us for a long time. I suggest recognizing an employee for something in front of the entire staff at the beginning of each shift.

We might also try thanking at least three employees each day when we notice them doing a great job. Consider giving out an award each month for winning a competition or for simply being a productive, reliable employee.

Treat Staff with Respect

This point hits home for me because I have personally quit a job due to a difficult manager. I think many of us have. A recent Gallup study tells us that one in two U.S. adults have quit their jobs due to poor treatment by management – one in two! (That article can be found here.)

If we want to keep our employees, we can start by looking at our management team – and ourselves, for that matter.

We should be asking questions like:

Do my employees respect me or do they resent me?

Do I dictate tasks or do I delegate accordingly?

Do I speak with accusatory or condescending tones?

Do I make employees feel stupid for asking questions?

There is no doubt we must hold our staff accountable to a certain standard, but if we are doing so in a way that causes our employees to resent us, why should we expect them to stay?

It helps to remember that common sense is not always common. Developing a great staff requires patience and guidance. Respect also goes both ways, whether you’re in charge or not.

Communicate as Much as Possible

The best way to find out if our employees feel valued is to ask them.

A tried and true way is to sit down with members of our staff one on one at the end of their shifts.

When I was a server, getting a chance to sit down with my manager was something I enjoyed. It was a great opportunity to not only connect, but to let her know what was working for me and what was not. In turn, she could determine whether I felt valued as an employee.

Surveys are an effective method of finding out how our employees feel as well. In my early managing days, I recall a survey that had come back to us from staff which indicated they did not feel recognized enough for their efforts. Those results were a big wake up call on how we should be treating our servers.

We need to make it a common practice to sit down with our employees and to ensure our floor managers are doing so, too. With so much more communication happening between everyone in the workplace, our employees are bound to feel more valued and our staff retention is likely to increase as well.

Make Sure Our Team is a Priority

Are our employees cheerful and motivated or stressed and miserable? If it’s the latter, we can’t expect them to stick around.

As the manager on shift, we have a duty to be there for them. If there’s a negative energy in our workplace, we must take ownership for it and figure out what it is that’s missing. It usually has to do with not putting in enough effort as a leader for our team.

Let’s start by saying “Hi” every time an employee walks in and then thank them on their way out – we want to acknowledge their existence!

We should also gather our team for a pre-shift meeting before the rush comes in. Here, we can welcome everyone, discuss a common goal for the night, and take the time to praise certain employees.

The biggest thing we want to remember is that without our employees, our restaurant won’t run. We need them as much as they need us. Let’s show them that by supporting them when they need it and going out of our way to help them out.

Valuing our staff is crucial to a successful business. Either we have valued employees who feel good about their jobs or we have employees that resent us and look for jobs elsewhere.

What kind of business would we prefer?