Stop Staff Turnover!
8 Ways To Keep Your Employees

Staffing is a continual, seemingly never-ending challenge. The minute I think I’ve put together the perfect team and take a breath, it – almost without exception – crumbles. Sometimes I find myself wanting to give my business away to anyone who will take it because finding, training and managing ever-changing staff seems insurmountable.

Losing employees not only eats away at margins as you find your business becoming less productive, effective, and efficient, but it also takes up your time to successfully recruit and replace those who have left. As an Owner/Operator, I find that having to replace employees not only takes up a lot of my time and money to continually train, but also it adds stress as it doesn’t allow me to focus on growing my business. Over the years, I have looked far and wide to find ways to effectively retain staff and to save time and money, and now I have several things I do that help me be more successful. 

Imagine not having to continually recruit but to be able to scale your team to meet the ongoing daily demands of your business. Reshaping your story line and changing the path of your business is easier than you think. By deploying several changes I’ve been able to slow down the amount of work I put into recruiting and grow my business more than I ever thought. I know my model isn’t 100% perfect; however, I wouldn’t have gotten to where I am without people I can depend on. As I’m sure you are thinking “How did you do that!”, I thought I’d share with you the things I’ve learned and done to create a highly effective model to attract and retain staff and to grow my business.

Here are the top 8 ways I keep and attract staff:


Create a Good Culture

This can have so many different meanings, and how it relates to you and your staff will be entirely unique to you. The important thing to remember about your good culture is that it needs to be protected. At all costs. It takes just 1 staff member to destroy something you may have worked years to create. Yes, this staff member may be the “only person” with a specialized knowledge or availability but if they are working against your culture, the rest of your staff can be de-moralized and, without question, it’s costing you immeasurably.


Flexibility With Time Off

I try to ALWAYS say yes when it comes to time-off requests. I WANT staff to have the work-life balance they are seeking. This makes for a happier and more productive employee. It can be difficult to remember staff do not care about our business in the same way we care about our business. They are NOT Owners – for some of your staff, this is just a paycheck and not their ultimate dream job. It’s a way for them to do the things they really want to do. Expecting them to care like you do is setting yourself up for disappointment.


Praise, Praise, Praise

This can be done in so many ways – privately, publicly, with an award, to customers, to other staff, in emails, by sending a hand-written thank you card, a quick text message or whatever method works for you. However you do it, be sure it is meaningful and sincere. Appreciating your staff is one of the most powerful methods to retain staff.


Train, Train, Train And Tools, Tools, Tools

There is only one thing more frustrating than not having the correct training or tools to do a job correctly – that’s working side by side with another staff member that doesn’t have the training or tools to do a job correctly. When I’m trying to fix these issues, I always like to start with the correct tools and make sure they are in good working order to do the job. This is the easy one because it generally can be solved with a small investment. Training? This is more challenging. I have found that constant training, however you approach it (such as classes, videos, manuals etc.), works best in frequent, small bite-sized sessions (5 to 15 minutes long.)


Hire Slow, Fire Fast

Hire slow? YES!!! Have multiple interviews (use managers, leads, other staff members to get a balanced perspective during interviewing – from managers to front of house workers) with prospective staff. If you don’t have a set interview process, START ONE NOW. If your interviews are not a set process with a set regimen, you do not have the ability evaluate and compare potential staff equally. The evaluation process becomes more complicated – unnecessarily so.



Define the Optimal Candidate for Position

Several years ago, I attended a presentation by Pals – an extremely successful regional fast-food chain. They had determined the perfect candidate for their entry level position to be a female and a junior in high school. They had found that these characteristics generally lead to at least 2 years of employment with a reliable and trainable staff member. As I think about my most successful staff members, there are certain patterns that emerge. This is not to say these are the ONLY type I will hire for that position but having a general idea of what I am looking for is very powerful and can tip the scales in your favor.



The LAST thing I do when I need staff is place an advertisement. This method gives me applicants with zero reference points and places ALL the burden and due diligence on me. I always try to find staff through referrals. These may be from existing staff, customers, family, friends and even from other employees at local restaurants. I have found referrals to be my very best source for new employees that stay long term.


Remember – Your Staff are your Internal Customers

This is the MOST powerful thing I have learned about retaining staff. I learned this concept at one of the very first seminars I went to at a restaurant trade show in 1998. The presenter introduced me to the concept that my staff are my Internal Customers and that I should treat them just like I treat my traditional customers. With this mindset, I give them good service, I give them a good and safe place to work, and I treat them with respect knowing they have MANY other options and opportunities. Think of how many places your customers can choose to visit. We would NEVER treat them poorly and we always go out of our way to ensure they have a memorable experience. We should do the same for our Internal Customers. I believe THIS is probably the MOST important thing I have learned to help retain staff.

The staffing battle will NEVER end. It’s the nature of business and when I remember this, it helps me have a healthy perspective when my “perfect” staff disintegrates right before my eyes. When I remember that staffing is a CONSTANT effort, I find myself in a better frame of mind when staffing issues arise. Having the staff you dream of…  IT IS POSSIBLE.

Bent Hansen, Owner of Los Gringos Locos. Longtime Newsletter Contributor and Royalty Rewards® Merchant since 2008.