3 Reasons Restaurant Jobs Have High Turnover

Dr. Ryan Giffen

Turnover rate is generally a concern for every single industry. It is difficult when employees are not sticking around or a company is lacking a good staff. Every industry has its own rate of turnover. Restaurant jobs have one of the highest. The reasons for a high turnover rate can be numerous but here are some that are the most common in the restaurant industry.

1. Teenagers and Restaurant Jobs

One of the largest reasons for restaurant turnover involves teenagers entering the workforce. Restaurants are a common entry point for teens looking for their first job. According to the National Restaurant Association, one-third of working teenagers are employed in the restaurant industry. 

Teens are hired into entry-level restaurant jobs, such as dishwasher, server, or cashier. Teens may view these positions as unimportant or easy to quit. Many of the teens hired will be on summer break from school, often quitting when school starts back up. Teens are also unlikely to stick with their first or second job. This means the turnover rate will be high for this age group in general. Take the age and commitment level of your staff into consideration if you're having high turnover rates in your establishment.

2. Hours and Pay

Another large reason for the high turnover in restaurants are issues with hours and pay. Both of these factors can play a massive role in whether employees are sticking with their job or not. Hours can be an issue on both sides of the spectrum. If a small staff is receiving too many hours, they can become disgruntled and unhappy. Conversely, if employees are receiving too little hours, they may have to find a different job to bring in the necessary income. It is common for restaurants to have low starting wages, but the pay is a massive issue if it is not enough income for the employee. It is understandable for wages to begin low, but if an employee has no room to make more, it can lead them right out the door. For servers, a lack of customers could be the difference between them being able to pay their bills or not.

3. No Room for Growth

This next reason is a very common problem in the restaurant industry. This would be that there is often no real room for growth in the business. Meaning, if an employee puts in time and effort, will they be able to move up the ladder in due time? If an employee has been working restaurant jobs for a while and they see no potential for moving up a position or making more money, this can lead them to begin seeking other opportunities. It doesn't always have to be a bump up to management, but an employee that puts in the time should be able to see the possibility of advancement. Otherwise, they may begin looking for a job that will better appreciate their talents.

Improving Turnover Rates

Turnover can be a pretty difficult issue, but it is far from unresolvable. All the above factors can be improved to some degree within a restaurant. Some tips include:

Conduct Exit Interviews - Exit interviews can provide insight into why employees are leaving. They may also find management issues that are problematic.

Validation - Hard-working employees should be recognized in some way. Give them something to work toward and let them know they are appreciated.

Consider Pay - It may seem like a good idea to keep wages as low as possible, but this can hurt staffing opportunities. Good employees are not going to stick around if they are not being properly compensated.

About Dr. Ryan Giffen

With over 20 years of experience, Dr. Ryan Giffen is an expert in human relations and business culture. His career began in hospitality, leading operations and human resource departments for Fortune 500 companies and the like. Not long after, Ryan found his passion for teaching and consulting. He earned a Ph.D. in Hospitality Management with a Human Resources focus from Iowa State University and now works as an assistant professor at California State University, Long Beach. For over a decade, he continues to research and speak on organizational culture, relationship intelligence, and leadership effectiveness. Ryan is also the founder of Inospire, a company helping bosses and employees build stronger relationships with one another.  Lastly, Dr. Giffen is producer and host of the Corporate Shadow Podcast. a show helping everyday employees overcome workplace nonsense.