A high turnover rate in the industry has always been a problem, but maybe not always for the same reasons...
When I was coming up in the industry in NY and Denver back in the early 90’s. Bartenders especially would tend to move around their city or move out of town, chasing the money or may have been late too many times and faced the consequences or couldn’t pay their bills in a more expensive area of the country, or one bar would let their bartenders drink and one bar wouldn’t. Let’s face it Everyone wants to make the most amount of money with the least amount of stress. Stress is also very different for ages/ stages and careers.
Now I think moving around and changing one's job for another could be attributed to industry professionals looking to better their careers. Maybe a more interesting opportunity or going forward in a slightly different position in management, F&B positions, expressing creativity in a different manner, or again a chance to be out of the tip pool and make better money for a bigger company are all important because that's how we learn and grow.
If you want to hold on to your employees, I suggest you recognise each of their talents.. pay attention to the ones that want a career and those who are just paying their bills. Talk to them ask them what they want out of life. If you have too many employees, have them fill out a questionnaire. Any way you can figure out a way to include them in things, events, classes. Have classes at the restaurant that might not be mandatory, but for specific interests. Find out who wants to learn and grow and help provide solutions to their hunger.
Skip a “Christmas party” and Spend some of that money earned and Take the whole staff on a trip to wine country in Italy, or The Grey Goose distillery in France, or Oaxaca and browse the many Palenques and Mezcalerias EVERY YEAR.. this will give them something to look forward to. Then... “why would they want to work anywhere else” is what they will tell their friends, family and potential employers.
Growth is inevitable for any driven hospitality industry professional. But if you take care of your employees and encourage their career and help them grow and learn, it’ll keep your turnover rate down, and will benefit them, your business, and you never know, they might even remember how great of a mentor you were for them and return the favour. Making people smile, learning a trade and making money with a sense of freedom is why we got into this industry in the first place, isn’t it?
Hold on to those key employees, they make this all worth being in the industry.