It’s mid-August, which means a moment of huge staff turnover for many restaurants. College-age employees are turning in their aprons and heading back to their studies. It’s a situation that’s nearly impossible to avoid. Many restaurants can’t afford to pay a high enough wage to wait staff to entice older, year-round workers. However, beyond raising your hourly pay rate, there are other things you can do to attract workers who will stick with your restaurant through the seasons and from year-to-year. One of the least expensive, more effective ways of doing this is to create real community amongst your employees.
The importance of employee community is no secret. There are entire business that offer their services to help companies’ team building efforts. The cliche is the company day of team-building in the woods, where employees participate in trust falls, rope climbing and other bond-building activities. But you don’t have to go to such lengths to create a sense of community amongst your restaurant staff. Instead, consider the little things you can do to make your employees feel that they are part of a family. Celebrate individual birthdays. Hold staff meetings in which you encourage everyone to share new ideas and voice problems. Hold a staff cookout or movie night once in a while.
If your workers feel a personal connection to your restaurant, they are much more likely to make an effort to hold onto their jobs. Students who go to college in the area will consider how they can find time for their studies while continuing to wait tables. Others who go to more distant colleges will want to return to work next summer when classes are over, making your hiring process much easier in the spring. They may even ask you about rehiring before leaving for school. Workers who enjoy their jobs and are happy with their employers are not only more likely to stick around, they also tend to work harder to help the business succeed.