Fast food restaurants have jaw-dropping, heart-stopping, panic-inducing retention rates. On average, fast food employee turnover has reached a staggering 150%—and according to Business Insider, that number might be the highest it’s been in 23 years due to new technology. Because of training difficulty, management struggles, inadequate pay/benefits, and various other possible factors, fast food restaurants are bleeding turnover and training costs in 2019.
Unfortunately, it’s not just fast food. The battle for employee retention is being fought in every industry and at every company. Employees have power in today’s economy, and employers are doing all they can to keep up. The tables have officially turned. As CEOs, HR professionals, and managers, we have to do more to inspire and empower employees to stick around. The strategies below are some of the best ways to reduce employee turnover without breaking the bank.
When it comes to reducing employee turnover, we know what we’re dealing with. We’re paying attention. Now it’s time to find a solution.
#1: Promote employee wellness
Recently, I walked into my favorite fast-food restaurant and saw a sign on the door advertising open positions. Front and center on the sign was a statement of the benefits new hires could look forward to three weeks of annual PTO, 401k matching, and comprehensive health, vision, and dental coverage. My immediate thought was “wow.” The era has passed when fast food jobs were reserved for high school summer cash. Now, they’re fully-fledged positions with serious benefits on the scale of any major SaaS company.
To maintain long-term employees, this is the strategy you absolutely need to adopt. Promoting employee wellness starts with providing the benefits that matter most to your team. Wellness also has a lot to do with the company culture you create—both on a company-wide scale and at the level of each individual franchise. Actively promoting a work-life balance with your policies will go a long way toward creating an “employee first” culture at your restaurant.
#2: Invest in your managers first
According to Gallup’s State of the American Manager report, 50% of surveyed employees have left a job because of a bad manager. If you’re facing a severe downturn in employee retention, it’s safe to say that management may have something to do with it. Take a real, honest, hard look at the people you’re hiring or promoting into managerial positions, and see if they’re succeeding.
If not, management training is one of the best ways to invest in the future satisfaction of your employees. Maybe your organization really believes in the policy of promoting from within—but the workers you hired for line cooking aren’t necessarily the best fits for personnel management. Still promote from within, by all means. But also invest heavily in training your managers. Ensure that they’re prepared with skills relating to professional communication, personal motivation, stress management, and emotional intelligence. Your employees and your pocketbook will thank you.
#3: Solicit meaningful feedback
When you’ve got a serious amount of turnover happening in your franchise, it’s likely that you’re giving most of your resources toward training new recruits. Training makes up the bulk of the costs of employee turnover, but it’s absolutely crucial. I’m not suggesting that you divert resources away from making sure new hires are well-trained and capable team members. What I would recommend is putting some of your efforts toward soliciting feedback from your employees.
The experience of leaving a company says a lot, both to the ex-employee and to the rest of their remaining team members. Make it your mission to understand, through in-depth exit interviews, what went wrong for those individuals who jump ship. Take their feedback into serious consideration when you’re making decisions about policy and personnel promotion. Exiting employees are your best source for brutally honest feedback—so use that to your advantage.
#4: Establish a system of recognition
Finally, one of the most effective employee retention strategies is establishing a solid culture of employee recognition in your organization. Employees who don’t feel satisfied with their jobs often leave when they stop feeling appreciated—when the social reward of being in a position doesn’t balance out the physical or mental expenditures of working a job in a fast-paced industry like fast food. The easiest way to make your employees feel recognized for a job well done is to implement an employee rewards or recognition program that helps balance the scale in your favor.
A word of caution here: standard employee reward systems don’t tend to work very well. They usually only reward the top 5% of performers—which is why the competitions, free vacations, or points systems you may have tried in the past ended up not succeeding. When you’re looking at a turnover rate of 150%, you simply can’t afford to ignore the remaining 95%.
To make a real impact on your team, you need to install an incentive program that’s based on a foundation of meaningful goal setting for each of the major teams or roles you work with. Establish metrics that measure the behaviors that really matter—both to your team and to your establishment as a whole. Provide high-value rewards that are rich with the social currency of bragging rights. And set up the program so that everyone can win, multiple times, as often as they’re able to meet their goals.
An incentive program like this is bound to bring a much higher ROI than any of the standard rewards schemes on the market, if only because it’s fully customized to your needs. It’s one of the most cost-effective ways to boost job satisfaction and get your retention numbers back on track.
In a world where employees hold the reins and are willing and able to shift jobs as often as it takes, employers have to do more to anticipate their needs. The strategies above will help you and your organization get ahead of the most common employee complaints and start turning those negatives into positives for future generations of your workforce. Before long, you’ll build a workplace and a culture that employees can’t help but be a part of for many years to come.
At Inproma, we believe in the power of recognition. It’s the currency we use to motivate employees around the United States with our targeted employee incentive programs. If you’re looking to launch a powerful rewards system but you don’t have the bandwidth to shoulder that burden alone, we’re here to help. Let’s talk.