Strategies to retain employees in hospitality

Strategies to retain employees in hospitality

Jessica Bilston-Gourley, Director of Positive HR, has created this article as part of our Locimo Experts series.


Our best employees come and go. While the hospitality industry is notable for its higher employee turnover, there are some things you can do to encourage your best employees to stick around for much longer. Finding good people is often hard and costly, so it's in your best interest to do all that you can to keep them. After owning a cafe for many years, I share some of the strategies I use to retain and keep my employees happy.


Feedback is a gift


We hold regular team huddles to discuss goals, upcoming promotions and to encourage open discussion on how things are — the good, the bad and the ugly — nothing is out of bounds. But please note, this will only work if you've created a safe environment for people to speak up. 


You can build trust and a safe space for people to share their ideas by always acknowledging everyone's feedback and comments in a positive and encouraging way — even if it's a criticism. I also invite my team members to be part of the solution by asking them to make suggestions on how we can improve things. I might not always know what's best, and I trust my people do because they are in the thick of it every day.


Have regular stay interviews 


A stay interview is where you will have regular check-ins with your best employees to see if they are happy in the job and if there is anything else you can do to support them. It gives them a chance to share anything that might bug them, so you can be proactive and keep them for longer. 


However, sometimes no matter how hard you try, your best people are going to leave for whatever reason it may be. In the exit interview, be sure to ask them what their reasons for leaving are and what could have been done differently to make them stay.


Provide training and development


When was the last time you had a conversation with your employees about their career goals and aspirations? Do they want to be upskilled in anything? The more you invest your time in learning about their career goals and development, the better able you are to provide them with what they need to stay. 


Offer training or suggest classes that can help them get to where they want to go. Try having a chat with your suppliers to see what training they offer. They want to help your business succeed as much as possible, so quite often, the training is free! 


In addition to First Aid Training, many businesses are seeing the value in having a Mental Health First Aid Officer (MHFA). Show your employees you care about their health and wellbeing by appointing an MHFA officer and get them accredited. 


Work as a team


Employees should have a healthy respect for one another and work together to ensure the place runs smoothly. Unfortunately, for some places, there is an 'us-versus-them' mentality with the front of house and kitchen staff. This results in disengaged employees who will then look for opportunities elsewhere. 


Encourage team cohesion by having team events so they can all get to know each other and the roles they play in your business. Give employees a chance to job shadow or fully participate in another role, so they can have a level of appreciation and understand the stressors. 


When team members fully understand the roles everyone plays, it creates more empathy and teamwork, which means that if someone is sick or goes on holiday, a team member can quickly cover without difficulty.


These are four simple strategies you can use to retain your best employees. When you keep communication channels open, have a culture of continuous improvement and show you care about their career development, they will be forever loyal and stick around. 


Author Bio:


This guest blog was written by Jessica Bilston-Gourley, Director and Founder of Positive HR. Jessica established her HR Consulting and HR Outsourcing business Positive HR in 2018, which has tripled in size in the past two years. Positive HR is about building high-quality and trusted partnerships at all levels of an organisation—big or small.


In 2017, Jessica received the LinkedIn Power Profile – Top 5 HR Professionals on LinkedIn across Australia. Since then she has continuously been seeking ways to challenge the status quo in HR and reinvent the wheel. Jessica has been the Co-Convenor of AHRI Emerging Leaders Committee in 2019 and again in 2020.