In our last post, we highlighted two key solutions for boosting employee loyalty and retention among quick-service restaurant (QSR) employees:  1. Hire right and 2. Present employees with a clear path to success. In this blog, we’ll discuss two more strategies for reducing turnover and ensuring your team is engaged and achieving both personal and organizational goals.

STRATEGY #3 – Create employee investment

A key way to keep your people – and keep them happy – is to foster a sense of ownership among team members. When people see their contributions make a difference, there is an inevitable sense of pride and purpose. Here are proven tips to create invested and engaged teams.

Delegate and Share Responsibility.

Since you have hired only well-qualified employees and have invested time and money into training them well, you should be confident in your team’s ability to handle important duties. Katie Martinelli agrees. “Stifled, over managed employees are likely to grow frustrated with the lack of freedom,” she writes for “Instead trust your employees to perform well – allow them some freedom and you are sure to see their enthusiasm skyrocket.” Micromanaging the people you hire will eventually destroy morale.

As noted in Restaurant Insider, former restaurant co-owner Danny Fisher took it one step farther. “I never asked my employees to do anything I was not willing to do or had not done myself.” He was known to clean the bathroom himself on occasion along with a number of other menial tasks. “They weren’t there to serve me. They were there to serve my customers, and that’s a job we all shared.”

Ask for and Honor Feedback from Your Team.

Your employees are the experts on your company culture. They are on the front lines, ground zero. What they see and what they know can make or break morale. Don’t just assume that no news is good news. Seek out employee opinion on certain issues. Have a suggestion box. Remind your team that your door is always open. Then if a team member has an idea of a better way to do things, you’ll be the first to know.

Source Internally.

As Seth Steinman suggests, “The employees you have working for you are a great resource for finding new team members. If they love working for you, they’ll be likely to recommend your restaurant to their friends. Camaraderie among your staff is essential, and people want to work with other good people.” Also quoted in the article is Brandon Hood, recruiting manager at Kellan Restaurant Management Corp, “Companies should develop an employee referral program. Employee recommendations lead to better retention among staff. A happy staff is a better staff. Customers see the difference and you and your team can spend your time where it counts.”

Strategy #4 – Provide personalized feedback and recognition

Increase the Human Factor.

Unfortunately, one way restaurant owners have been combating turnover is trying to eliminate the human factor. Rosemary Batt of the Cornell School of Industrial Relations says that decades of fast-food industry efforts to standardize and ‘routinize’ jobs – take the skill out of them – has been intended to create turnover-proof jobs.

As leaders in the restaurant industry continue to move toward technology to attack the turnover crisis, experts are saying just the opposite: increase the human factor.  Founder of The Art of Fitness and Life Julian Hayes, II, says, “People want to be heard and feel like they matter – not just another employee inside the machine.”

We’ve all heard the quote, “Loyalty goes both ways.” Owners should take the first step in that exchange.

Provide Personalized Feedback.

Many busy restaurant owners forget to provide feedback. Katie Martinelli says, “Feedback helps an employee to reflect on their performance, acknowledge areas for improvement and develop their skills. Skipping the opportunity to provide workers with feedback hinders your company’s growth and may lead to your employees looking elsewhere.”

She continues, “Ignoring the opportunity for feedback, or providing unhelpful feedback, will leave your employee to flounder, become disheartened, struggle and eventually give up.” Scheduling one-on-one employee reviews/check-ins might seem like a daunting task timewise, but the time you invest in your team will pay off in higher engagement and less time spent training and retraining employees. This can also offer an incredible opportunity to hear suggestions and ideas from employees that they may not otherwise share.

Recognize Individual Success and Achievement.

This is small gesture with a potentially huge payout. Martinelli says, “Employees want to know that their contribution is valued. Make a conscious effort to specifically recognize their successes and reward their efforts.” Employee-of-the-Month pictures decorate walls in a number of QSRs and grocery stores, filling workers with pride and also assuring customers that excellence is being provided to them and recognized by the higher ups. And make sure wages increase proportionally with professional development. A pay raise for a higher skill set makes sense but can easily be overlooked in a busy restaurant.

By hiring right, presenting employees with a clear path to success, creating employee investment, and providing personalized feedback and recognition, you’ll be well on your way to finding and keeping the best talent to serve your customers with excellence.


To discuss best practices and new technologies for identifying and developing top performers, contact us to schedule a free consultation at 888.332.0648. With more than 30 years of expertise in employee hiring and development, we’re here to help!