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Getting Staff to Stick Around - How to Retain Talent

Job vacancies in Canada’s restaurant industry have tripled since the pandemic, stalling recovery in the beleaguered sector as it grapples with rising food costs, mounting debt, and high inflation.

Restaurants can’t afford to lose talent, even in the best of times. With job-hopping becoming the norm, employers must go the extra mile to offer skilled staff more than just a pay cheque. 

6 Ways to Overcome the Labour Shortage & Improve Employee Retention 

1. Ask (and listen!)

When an employee makes a sudden exit, that’s your cue to ask why.

It might be an issue that can be easily addressed such as a problem with another staff member or an issue with their timetable. You’ll never know if you don’t ask, and you certainly can’t fix the problem unless you know what it is.

But don’t ask as an empty courtesy. Employers should be ready to listen and take action if appropriate. By encouraging your staff to open up about why they want to leave, you’re showing them that you’re ready to listen and be proactive in meeting their needs. 

2. Optimise your onboarding 

Don’t just think about what your departing staff need. Also consider what incomers want. Giving employees a streamlined onboarding experience from the get-go sets the right tone, increasing the chances that they’ll want to stay long-term.

Make sure they’re fully trained and up to speed on everything they need to know. Introduce them to colleagues and give them time to settle in. Be considerate, and patient as they learn the ropes.

And now’s the time to sell your restaurant - showing new employees what you can offer them, rather than simply focusing on what they bring to the business.

3. Create a supportive culture

If you have an issue with workers quitting shortly after they’re hired, it might be an indicator that your company culture isn’t what it should be.

Workers need to feel included, supported, and engaged. While it takes time to foster relationships in the workplace, you can help the process along by scheduling regular check-ins with staff, encouraging feedback, and investing in their development through ongoing training opportunities.

4. Target people looking for extra income

As inflation bites, more people are taking on extra jobs to make ends meet. The restaurant business has always been popular with those looking for a second income, providing flexibility and a wage that’s often better than retail business can offer.

If you’re in the midst of a staffing shortage, consider tapping into this workforce - marketing your business to jobseekers who will appreciate the steady income and part-time nature of the job.

5. Offer flexibility

Whether your workers are part-time or building a foodservice career, they’ll appreciate some degree of flexibility in their working arrangements -especially around sick days and family leave.

You should be prepared to make allowances for unexpected circumstances, childcare needs, and other disruptions. Post-pandemic, many employees are searching for a better work-life balance and are prepared to quit if they can’t find it. Show your team that you’re willing to accommodate them and they’ll reward you with their loyalty.

6. Be competitive

Obviously, wages are a key factor in employee satisfaction so you need to make sure you’re keeping up with industry standards. But they’re not the only consideration. 

Consider what perks are becoming mainstream in the sector - flexible hours, additional benefits, training and development - and match or, even better, exceed them.

The road to recovery 

Increasing employee retention means engaging with your workers, addressing their concerns, and creating an environment where they feel supported and appreciated. 

Even a small shift in workplace culture can make a big difference. Investing in your people isn’t just a short-term solution to the current crisis, it’s good practice if you want your business to survive long-term. Implementing the above steps can help foodservice businesses navigate the current market turmoil, while also ensuring they have a team they can rely on, whatever lies ahead.


If you need to fill training gaps within your team or get new employees up to speed, our industry experts can help. FoodSafetyMarket offers a variety of market-leading online courses so employees can gain the skills they need quickly and conveniently. Our programs range from nationally-accredited Food Handler Certifications to micro-learning courses on leadership, company culture, and more. Contact us today to get started!