Turnover rates in the restaurant industry have always been high, topping 70% for the past few years. Some of this is just the nature of the business. As a major employer of teens, students, and part-time staffers, higher attrition is expected. Low unemployment nationwide adds to your restaurant’s staffing challenges, which makes keeping quality employees even more important. If you’re thinking that’s easier said than done, you’re not alone. Start by taking a look at what makes employees quit.

Toxic Work Environment

In a job market where almost every restaurant has a “help wanted” sign in the window, it’s easy for employees to decide to leave a toxic work environment. Issues such as harassment, discrimination, conflict, and poor teamwork will create a situation where employees quit rather than report issues. You can’t be everywhere all the time, so it’s important you check in with employees to ensure there aren’t issues affecting team morale that you’re not aware of. Stay away from generic questions such as “How’s everything going?” Ask specific questions and, more importantly, listen to employees’ answers and investigate potential issues.

Insufficient Training

Restaurant staff training does more than just teach employees how sell, serve, and follow procedures. It shows them that the restaurant leadership team wants them to succeed. When your training is insufficient or outdated, you’re setting employees up to fail. Who wants to stay in a job where they’re destined to fail?

No Future Benefit

Many restaurant employees live by the saying, “What’s in it for me?” It is up to you to show them the benefit of sticking with you even if they don’t see themselves in the restaurant industry long-term. Through training and mentoring, you can help employees see that there are many skills they can learn at your restaurant that apply to a variety of career paths.

Life Happens

Some employees quit not because they want to, but because they feel they have to. They may lose their transportation or child care. They may need to make more money or work different hours. If it’s at all possible – and fair to the rest of the team – work with employees who are going through difficult life situations. If you can’t work something out, keep the door open for future opportunities.

When you address the reasons employees quit, you’ll see an improvement in staff retention. This, in turn, will lead to improved guest service and higher sales. It’s a cycle – and it starts with you.