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9 ways restaurants are leading in employee retention

Tuesday, September 26, 2017  
Posted by: Taylor Salvato
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9 ways restaurants are leading in employee retention
By: Jim Sullivan

Jim Sullivan is a popular keynote speaker at leadership, franchisee and GM conferences worldwide. This article does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the editors or management of Nation’s Restaurant News.

The foodservice industry is tougher than a woodpecker’s lips. We have an oversupply of restaurants and an undersupply of talent. We’re over-managed and under-led. We’re better at training than we are at recruiting, so we hurry-hire the wrong people and hope training will fix them — but there’s no right way to develop the wrong person.

We’re better at hiring than we are at retention, so we churn employees that should be kept and keep employees that should be churned. And it seems the only companies assured of profitability these days are the ones selling us all those “Help Wanted” signs. So what’s an industry to do to solve hiring and retention challenges? What are the best foodservice companies doing to minimize employee turnover and maximize team member tenure?

In his recent book “Cattle Kingdom,” author Christopher Knowlton notes with alarm that the annual employee turnover in U.S. slaughterhouses in 2016 had reached 100 percent. The foodservice industry eclipsed that number two years ago. While it’s frightening to conclude that Americans would rather work on a killing floor than a kitchen line, the fact is that the majority of employees who leave a foodservice position tend to stay in the restaurant business. You quit the job, but not the industry. Still, it’s a sobering comparison.


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