The Simpay Academy​

How to Attract and Retain Restaurant Employees in the Post-Pandemic Labor Market

COVID-19 wasn’t the only pandemic we’ve witnessed recently; we saw a resignation pandemic as well. With shutdowns in response to COVID-19, most restaurants were left closed or minimally operating when they reopened.

Financial returns went from spurts to trickles, and employers were stressed out. Employees had to take pay cuts or stay home without pay. Many restaurant employees, especially in small and medium-scale restaurants, found that working in a restaurant no longer appeared to be a very stable source of income. Consequently, many had to quit.

The world of business has changed significantly in the last year. It would have been easy to put out a sign and have several prospects coming in to take over our vacant positions for the long run. But now, it’s not that simple. Though the labor market is full of the unemployed, employees still want more than just a paycheck. Even with increased pay and new talent, people don’t feel appreciated enough to stay on long-term. How can you retain them?

Investing in and cultivating a culture aligned with your restaurant’s vision can help you keep talent and grow your customer base. To build an unmatched workplace culture and skill, we recommend these strategies:


Offer value during and after recruitment

To recruit the best talent, you need to understand that people want a job that they will enjoy. If you offer them a job that does not meet their needs, then they will leave. Make your new employees feel valued by giving them a sign-on bonus, quarterly rewards program, and reasonable paid time off offer. Consequently, they’ll be more likely to stay with you long-term!


Make onboarding as social as possible.

No matter the employee’s personality, there’s bound to be some withdrawal when you start in a new environment. The first few days or weeks of being at a new job may shape how you feel about the company for years to come. The way you onboard a new employee can make all the difference between them considering leaving after their first month or staying to work their way up for five years.

To make onboarding a social affair, have the new employee be assigned a buddy to help them get acclimated to their tasks and the culture. The “buddy” can oversee their tasks and help them make zero to minimal mistakes while boosting their confidence in their new position. They can also tell the new employee all the fun things about the restaurant.

A new member of staff can be a daunting prospect, but there are a few things you can do to help them feel more at home.


Establish a friendly workplace culture

  • Make your restaurant inclusive and equitable: Make sure your restaurant is inclusive and equitable by including all your employees in the decision-making process. Take everyone’s opinion into account, and find a middle ground where everyone feels safe and connected.
  • Incorporate social activities into the restaurant’s daily/weekly operations: This could be karaoke and dinner at the end of the day, team cook-offs, or games such as Hot Potato, Blind Taste Tests, Perfect Check, etc.
  • Support their personal pursuits: Some of your employees have personal pursuits. Maybe they are budding drummers or enjoy volunteering for specific charities. Whatever it is they do, could you find a way to support them? Draft shifts to align with your employees’ schedules, and on days they have significant events going on at the other end, you could offer paid or unpaid leaves, show up for them or encourage others to show up for them. 
  • Opportunities to climb up the ladder: Progress is an inherent desire in humans, which means you should commit to your employees’ development by giving them opportunities to gain or transfer skills. Allow your employees to learn and take on new roles that they were not qualified for before, increasing their value to themselves and your restaurant. You don’t want your restaurant to be stagnant.


Recognize your employees’ impacts and values in the restaurant

At your restaurant, it’s essential to make sure that you recognize your employees for their hard work. It would help if you made it a point to provide an appreciation for hard work and values. Simple things like the fastest server or the employee with the fewest mistakes show that you care about them – and this can make them feel welcomed and take pride in working at your establishment.

Recognition is vital in the workplace, so it’s always a good idea to have a recognition program. You can recognize employees with things like plaques, pictures with kind words on a wall, or other rewards you give out.


Don’t overlook the human element

Remember: the first thing that attracts talent to your restaurant is the need for a job, and people need jobs because they need money. People make plans around the money they are expecting, and when the money doesn’t come in on time, many plans could be disrupted. Consequently, they feel dissatisfied, and their spirits get dampened a little. Morale gets low, productivity drops, and the restaurant suffers from all of this. It doesn’t matter what caused the delays; employees want to get paid for their jobs.

Employers of small- and medium-sized restaurants often overlook the human element of their business. They focus on sales and customers but neglect to have adequate systems in place for their employees. When employees find it too difficult to handle work tasks, they’ll make errors and become disgruntled. Eventually, they’ll look for another job at a restaurant that compensates them better.

Simpay offers a cloud-based employee management system that accurately processes payroll. You can access over 300 payroll reports in real-time and choose from various automated pay types, deductions, benefits, and more. With Simpay, you can keep your employees happy, and you can rest assured that Simpay will accurately process your payroll.

Our Employee Management Solutions are designed to help you boost your employees’ loyalty and retention rates with the click of a button. Reach out today to see how we can help you retain your workforce.

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