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Nov 28, 2020, 2:58
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Retaining Foodservice Employees

07 September 2010

by Bradley J. Ware, Ph.D., and C. Lévesque Ware, Ph.D.

In any business, reducing employee turnover can result in greater productivity and increased profitability.

Foodservice operations are different in size, structure and sophistication, yet there are basic guidelines that can be applied in varying degrees to any operation to encourage employee retention. Employees who feel respected, appreciated and fairly treated and who are comfortable in their work environment do not usually leave. Opportunities for personal growth and possible career advancement are also important enticements for employees.

Employees should feel welcome and respected. (1) Provide orientation to welcome individuals and to familiarize them with the operation and its culture. Review policies and procedures and provide an SOP manual. Discuss the mission statement and its overall importance in the success of both the individual and the organization. (2) Offer competitive salaries and benefit packages. (3) Be as flexible as possible with scheduling to accommodate personal and familial responsibilities or unforeseen circumstances. Flexibility in scheduling reduces employee stress and provides for happier and more productive employees.

Employees should feel competent and comfortable in doing their jobs. (4) Train employees appropriately. Thoroughly explain and demonstrate the tasks to be performed to successfully complete the job. Allow employees sufficient time to learn their jobs and offer feedback that assesses their performance. (5) Provide feedback on a regular basis leading up to the annual formal evaluation to keep employees aware of their strengths and weaknesses and to allow for improvement and growth. Create an environment in which employees feel that they can succeed. (6) Establish a good work environment. Make sure that employees feel comfortable at work. Create a team atmosphere that has the support of management. Provide a safe and clean environment that does not place the worker at any risk of harm.

Employees should feel appreciated and should not be bored with their jobs. (7) Reward and recognize employees both privately and publicly. A simple word of appreciation or acknowledgement on a job well done can motivate individuals. Thank-you notes, gift rewards and bonuses are all means of showing employees that they are valued. (8) Treat employees fairly and equitably. It is important that individuals feel that they are given the same consideration and privileges afforded other workers of similar employment status. (9) Provide employees with challenges to keep the job interesting. Cross-train employees, rotate responsibilities and empower individuals to make decisions by providing them with the technical and personnel support needed to do so. (10) Offer a mentoring program. Pair experienced persons with those with less experience to provide opportunities for individual growth and possible career advancement.

Retaining quality employees is advantageous to foodservice operations in a number of ways. Low turnover rates reduce training time, guarantee greater productivity and generate good morale. Well-trained, experienced employees increase profitability. They provide a consistent product and efficient service to guarantee greater customer satisfaction.


Bradley J. Ware, Ph.D., is a professor in the College of Culinary Arts at Johnson & Wales University in Providence, R.I. C. Lévesque Ware, Ph.D., is a professor in the John Hazen White School of Arts and Sciences at Johnson & Wales University in Providence.