The Restaurant Employee Retention Strategy No One’s Talking About

Signs of the labor shortage are everywhere in food service, from long lines at fast food places to slow service in sit-down restaurants. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports quit rates in the accommodation and foodservice industry have jumped from 4.8% to 6.9% in the past year. Meanwhile, hiring rates have stayed the same.

It’s not just about pay. A Joblist survey found more than 50% of former hospitality workers wouldn’t return even with a pay increase. So, what’s driving them away?

The physical toll

Although food preparation and serving might not be the first thing you think of as “manual labor,” they require more physical effort than many other jobs.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, these workers spend 96.4% of their day on their feet. They often stoop (75.9%), reach below the shoulder (96.7%), reach overhead (65%), and use medium strength (56%).

Over time, this physical strain exhausts workers.

Lighten the load with the right equipment

Industry awareness is growing, and it’s no longer enough to focus purely on pay and benefits. As foodservice operations consider how best to attract new employees and retain current staff, reducing the physical labor required to perform tasks becomes a more essential part of the discussion.

This doesn’t mean having to replace workers with expensive and complicated robotic systems. Instead, consider options that ease the back-breaking labor of restaurant work while improving efficiency.

Case in point: AyrKing’s Mixstir and Mixstir Basket for hot chicken restaurants

A great example of equipment that reduces the toll of labor on workers is AyrKing’s Mixstir and Mixstir basket.

The Mixstir thoroughly combines batters or liquid seasonings without injecting air and disturbing the flavor profile using a specially designed blade. Perfect for Nashville-style hot chicken oil-based mixes that need to be constantly mixed to keep the seasoning suspended, the Mixstir improves efficiency, saving workers time and labor that would otherwise be spent on manual stirring.

The Mixstir Basket lets workers dip chicken into the mix and lift it out without disturbing the blade. It has hooks for easy drainage, eliminating the need to hold it. These tools increase efficiency and maintain consistency during busy times.

Enhancing employee wellness

In today’s competitive job market, focusing on employee wellness is more important than ever. Here are a few strategies to consider:

Training and career development

Investing in your employees’ future can significantly boost retention. When workers see clear opportunities for advancement, they feel more committed to their roles. Regular training sessions not only improve job performance but also show you value growth. This commitment fosters loyalty and reduces turnover, as employees feel more secure and hopeful about their career trajectory.

Work-life balance

Achieving work-life balance is a top priority for many employees. Offering flexible scheduling, like staggered shifts or shift-swapping options, helps staff manage personal and professional lives better. When workers have a healthy balance, they are happier, more productive and more likely to stay with your organization.

Better working conditions and flexibility

Creating a supportive work environment goes beyond just the physical space — it’s about ensuring employees feel valued and respected. Maintain open communication, keep the workspace safe and clean, and offer flexibility wherever possible. Prioritizing well-being helps build a dedicated and satisfied team.

Thriving through change

The restaurant industry continues to evolve, and so must the strategies for employee retention. To attract and retain staff, reducing physical labor is crucial. To stay competitive, restaurants need to adapt to these changing dynamics.

Want to learn more? Contact us today to see how AyrKing can help reduce your workers’ load and boost efficiency.

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