Staff Turnover in Restaurants: Causes and Effects

Whereas for big business, especially for sales and marketing departments, staff turnover is a common phenomenon. Staff changes within the small and medium business (such as a small chain of fast-food restaurants) result in billions of dollars of lost revenue.

Fast food restaurants in the U.S. averaged a whopping 145% turnover rate (Halvorson, 2013). It is a burning issue that needs to be addressed by building “comprehensive retention programs” (Halvorson, 2013).

According to the experts from the consulting company Development Dimensions International, “any retention strategy begins with identifying the specific causes of turnover within a particular company” (‘Managing Employee Retention, Engagement, and Careers’, 2011).

Two main groups of causes of staff turnover can be distinguished; they are recruitment strategy errors and personnel management strategy errors. The latter includes the failure to provide competitive working conditions, the lack of prospects, and the unwillingness to invest in training. Very few managers allow for the costs of training for the employees.

The management’s reluctance to retain staff is due to the idea that it is better to recruit trained specialists directly from the labor market instead of cultivating them within a company. Whilst the recruitment strategy errors include the lack of such documents as A Set of Competencies and The Perfect Candidate (due to the acute shortage of waiters and administrators, the employers do not choose among the nominees, but recruit someone who only vaguely resembles the right candidate), the lack of recruitment specialists (the interviewer does not conduct professional selection), and the provision of insufficient information to the candidate (regarding possible benefits, such as chain discounts and health insurance).

Under conditions where increasing wages is not an option, the company may offer flexible hours, paid time off, or discounts to its employees (Thompson, n.d.).

More comprehensive measures for retaining staff may include the development of recruitment systems, personnel adaptation programs, and multilevel systems of personnel motivation, the introduction of coaching for novices, cross-training programs for staff development and career building, and job design.

According to DeCenzo & Robbins (2005), the latter refers to the way that the position and the tasks within that position are organized; it describes what tasks are included, how and when the tasks are done, and any factors that affect the work, such as in what order the tasks are completed and the conditions under which the tasks are completed (p. 125).

It is highly important since the possible failure to complete tasks jeopardizes the sense of accomplishment, the lack of which is the major factor influencing one’s decision to leave work voluntarily. The sense of accomplishment, which is directly related to employee satisfaction, may be further supported with employee-of-the-month awards or incentives based on the customer service (Brookins, n.d.).

It may take years to recover the prestige of a company. Under conditions of the costly employee turnover, a small chain of fast-food restaurants does not have much time; therefore, it is advisable to use the means of retaining employees mentioned above.


Brookins, Miranda. (n.d.). .

DeCenzo, D., & Robbins, S. (2005). Fundamentals of Human Resource Management. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

Halvorson, Chad. (2013). .

Managing Employee Retention, Engagement, and Careers. (2011). [Powerpoint slides] Pearson Education, Inc.

Thompson, Van. (n.d.). .

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