It feels inevitable, but it doesn’t have to. You can avoid high staff turnover if you take a few proactive steps. And at the same time, you’ll avoid inconsistent service that goes with being understaffed in the interim, as well as cranky staff who are working extra shifts, and the arduous hiring-and-training game:
Thank your staff. This one should be obvious, but here’s a refresher: People don’t mind stress as much as they mind being taken for granted. Your employees will go the extra mile when there’s a crazy rush at the counter if they feel appreciated for their efforts. And they’ll be less likely to go looking for another job. Also remember to recognize and celebrate any important goals they may be working toward. Thank them in person, with thank-you cards, or with an employee-of-the month program. And be consistent.
Don’t underestimate the power of cash and prizes. Consider giving bonuses, in addition to regular thank-yous, for a job well done. It doesn’t have to be a formal part of your staff policy. Do it randomly, when someone goes way out of their way for a customer, or consistently sets a good example on the job. Give a few hours of paid time off, or a gift certificate to a favorite local retailer that suits the star-employee’s personal interests. Be creative. Bonus tip: Trade goods or services with another local store, and bonus your employees with the trade.
Get them to grow. A big reason for turnover is boredom. If employees aren’t learning, they aren’t growing or engaged. Talk with each staff member and help them set goals that are meaningful to them, and make the results measurable. It could be pouring better latte art, remembering customers’ names, learning to handle inventory or cash flow, training new-hires, or being in charge of “décor,” like plants, outdoor spaces, etc.
And make continuing education a priority. Train to refresh skills and develop new ones. Train to keep up on innovations and trends. Make use of webinars, classes, books, podcasts, etc. On-the-job training is a key component to employee engagement and retention. Bonus growth opportunity: cross-training, which broadens your available talent pool so more people can fill in when someone is sick or on vacation. It also helps you create appreciation and cooperation among coworkers, since they’ll be learning how “the others” live.
Engage them in your goals. Employees crave context for their work, so they can feel they’re making a difference. Share with them your café or restaurant’s goals, and make sure they have corresponding individual goals. It will increase their performance, and make them more vested in your operation.
Encourage friendships. According to a Gallup pole, people are more likely to stay at a job if they have close friends who work there.
Start traditions, and celebrate. Have a costume party on Halloween. Run a food-collection drive during the holidays. Pick a charity to help each quarter. All of these things bring your staff together, and expand the context of their relationships with each other, and you.
Take these retention tips to heart, and you won’t see as many of your well-trained, star employees come and go. And, just as importantly, you won’t spend as much time and money interviewing and training new employees.