Staff retention - my experience [10 tips]

Mar 3, 2019 5:33:29 PM / by Lee Skinner

Carbon Free Dining - Staff Retention My Experience 10 Tips


Back in 2000 Griffeth, Hom and Gaertner shared that Employee dissatisfaction caused by poor relationships with supervisors and line managers, undesirable working conditions and lack of career development and training opportunities were seen as major factors that cause high staff turnover in the hospitality industry. So nearly 20 years later, what’s changed?


A lot has been shared in that time, that the industry needs to attract more young talent in and the challenges we as an industry has at doing that. Marcus Wareing recently commented that "Kids grow up watching TV shows and think that being a Chef is 'cool,' but they can’t wake up early in the morning or come to work on time. They expect to get overpaid, but then they can’t make a sauce or cook a steak" so how do we tackle attracting talent into restaurants, and more importantly how do we keep them!


Carbon Free Dining - Staff Retention My Experience 10 TipsDuring my career, I have always viewed people retention as a huge barometer of success. After all, there are many articles and papers written about the links between fully trained staff, morale and productivity. My initial knowledge came from first experiences in the industry, when at 13 I started as kitchen porter, washing dishes on a Saturday afternoon and how my then mentor, Ron Whitaker, (a man probably not heard of by many and sadly is no longer with us), who for many who attended weddings and outside catering experiences in the Borough of Reigate and Banstead in the 1980's and 90's probably received his hospitality.


Over a fond 7 years, Ron and his son Barry instilled in me that it costs nothing to have great people practices and that a life of subservience can be extremely rewarding. They endorsed what my parents had instilled in me, that no matter who you are or the position you hold, how you interact with people says a lot about you as an individual. I'm sure you have heard of the saying I was raised to treat the Janitor and the CEO with the same respect. Ron and Barry lived and breathed that ethos.


Carbon Free Dining - Staff Retention My Experience 10 TipsAs I look back, maybe it’s from these humble beginnings that over the past 23 years of management, that I have always sought to promote and develop from within. Maybe the kindness and the patience that was shown to me by Ron and Barry when I was learning the ropes somehow rubbed off. Over the years the most rewarding experiences I have had has resulted from talent spotting, mentoring and giving people a chance. Maybe that's where the sector has to itself change, to meet the challenges faced by an image of working long and unsocial-able hours, for entry-level pay and Brexit.


So how can we tackle the shortages of trained staff that we continuously hear about? Train and develop the staff within your organisation. Throughout my career, I have tried to create a culture that supports, develops and nurtures the team. Development of people is always front and centre, and maybe this is why, now running 3 restaurants in the centre of London, with 100 staff; the average length of currently stands at over 2 years and growing. What’s the secret to great retention – No it’s not about throwing pay rises out every 5 minutes.

Carbon Free Dining - Staff Retention My Experience 10 Tips• Getting your recruitment right first – hire the smile – Choose attitude over the skill. Give me a great attitude over ability any day. You can develop, but you can’t develop the want and desire to succeed.

• Take a risk – show people you care about them and want to believe in them, they will then, in turn, buy into you. Give them a chance!

• Be quick to praise and slow to criticise – Make sure you tell them at least once every 7 days what a great job they have done – humans are not robots and need to feel the love. Always sing from the positive in public and keep the negatives for a private chat.

• Always make time for your staff – no matter what they want to talk about, be there to listen. You never know what little acorn they will share with you, or what you will learn.

• No one gets out of bed to do a bad job – find out what’s holding them back from doing a good job, listen maybe even work with them to understand the issues. You’ll be amazed at how much productivity improves if you do this.

Carbon Free Dining - Staff Retention My Experience 10 Tips• Make the job easy – Humans will always find the short cuts to make the role as easy as possible that way the team will do it how you want and deliver the service you want.

• Reward wherever you can – it doesn’t have to be a lot – even just a printed certificate makes a huge difference.

• Be the safety net, not the micromanager – it's fine to start them on the leash but as they build confidence and trust let them do it themselves just be there to support, and catch them. Be a coach, not a manager.

• Find out why people leave you– Conduct exit interviews, listen, empathise and don’t make excuses this is not about you it’s about learning so you can implement solutions for the rest of the team.

• Always Say Thank you – it cost nothing but your people will feel valued. Treat your team the same the way you would want to be treated.

Topics: Hospitality Influencers, Staff Retention, Restaurant Owner

Lee Skinner

Written by Lee Skinner