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5 Tips for Reducing Turnover

By Larry Buhl, special to CareerBuilder
Submitted courtesy of the National Restaurant Association and CareerBuilder

There’s a small, dark lining to the silver cloud of economic recovery: While customers may be freer with spending, your best and brightest workers might get a wandering eye. According to CareerBuilder’s 2012 Job Forecast, voluntary turnover was higher in 2011 than the previous year for all workers. And employers, fearful of losing their top performers, are planning to offer incentives to retain their best talent. Obviously high salaries and attractive benefits help to keep workers around, but it takes more than that to build a passionate workforce.

So how do you reduce turnover? We asked some restaurant and franchise owners for some tips.

Hire people who want to be there. “The best thing we can do to combat high turnover is to ensure that our hiring process focuses on hospitality minded individuals,” says Michael Inwald, President and Founder of Cheeseboy: Grilled Cheese To Go. “It is incredibly difficult to coach someone into developing a passion for food and customer service.”

Confront problems at the right time. Jeff Flancer, owner of Flancer's Restaurant in Gilbert and Mesa AZ, says that there is a right and wrong time for confrontation. “Employees don’t need to be rattled before or even during the shift. After the rush, that’s when you can compliment and correct employee behavior.”

Build a culture of collaboration. Glenn D’Amore, head of Silver Diner operations, who oversees15 stores throughout the Washington, D.C., region, says management is not afraid to get their hands dirty. “No job can be beneath somebody,” he says. “If the cooks need help, we'll help cook. If the dishwasher needs help, we'll wash dishes. This is how respect is built.”

Praise first, criticize second. People love to hear they're doing a good job, and they are much more open to receiving feedback if you first point out what they’re doing well.
Promote from within. Workers will be more loyal and want to stay around if they feel there are opportunities to move up. “Nearly 80% of our managers were associates, and this builds a great culture of growth and opportunity from within,” said D’Amore. But before you can promote from within, you need to prepare workers and train them to take on more duties, D’Amore adds.
Turnover is a natural part of restaurant business, especially in good times. But owners and managers we talked with suggest embracing that fact and ensuring the best possible work environment for everyone within the organization.

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