top of page

The Art of Retention: 5 Areas to Improve to Keep Your Best Hospitality Staff

Image of a waiter typing an order into a POS system.

In the dynamic and highly competitive world of hospitality, attracting and retaining top-tier staff is a pressing challenge. With the hospitality industry grappling with labor shortages and facing an annual turnover rate of over 70%, as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, it's clear that effective retention strategies are paramount to success.

The secret to a thriving restaurant extends beyond the delectable food on a customer's plate. It's also about the individuals who bring that dish from the kitchen to the table. The passion, dedication, and skill of these staff members can transform a good dining experience into an unforgettable one. But how can a restaurant secure its best employees in an industry characterized by transience?

1. Competitive Compensation and Benefits

Although not the only motivator, remuneration undoubtedly plays a vital role. In an industry notorious for low wages, establishments offering competitive compensation and robust benefits packages distinguish themselves. Data from Harvard Business Review shows that a 10% increase in base pay can decrease the likelihood of employee departure by 1.5%. Yet, enticing employees isn't always about cash; offering health insurance, paid time off, or flexible scheduling can be equally compelling incentives.

2. Culture and Values

A positive and respectful work environment is a significant determinant of employee retention. A study by Built-In found that for 46% of employees, company culture was the deciding factor in choosing a job. Employees are more likely to remain where they feel valued and respected. A culture that promotes teamwork, values feedback and celebrates success can significantly bolster the retention of top talent.

3. Opportunities for Growth

Providing opportunities for advancement plays a significant role in staff retention. A LinkedIn study revealed that 94% of employees would commit longer to a company if it invested in their career development. From cross-training in different roles to offering educational programs, restaurant owners should provide ample growth opportunities. Not only do these measures improve retention, but they also foster a more proficient and versatile workforce.

4. Employee Recognition

The impact of recognition in the workplace cannot be underestimated. A study from TINYpulse, an employee engagement firm, found that employees who don’t feel recognized are twice as likely to quit within the next year. Implementing a regular recognition program can be instrumental. Even minor acknowledgments, such as an "Employee of the Month" award, can boost morale and stimulate staff to deliver their best.

5. Work-Life Balance

Finally, it's essential to remember that hospitality professionals, like everyone else, have lives beyond work. Respecting this can lead to higher job satisfaction and lower turnover rates. Companies that promote a healthy work-life balance experience 25% lower staff turnover, according to a study by Intux.


A thriving restaurant is a product of collective effort. Retaining the best staff demands an understanding of their needs and aspirations and a commitment to invest in them. While the specifics may vary between establishments, the principles remain constant: competitive pay and benefits, a positive culture, growth opportunities, recognition, and work-life balance. By embodying these elements, restaurant owners can truly master the art of retention.


Head shot of Marc Lapierre, founder and CEO of Clock'd

Marc LaPierre is a 10-year veteran of the food and hospitality industry, Certified Staffing Professional, and CEO/Founder of Clock’d + SEEN. From cooking in James Beard award-winning kitchens to opening and managing a nightclub in Mexico, he worked every job in the industry. Today he connects professionals looking to advance their careers with clients eager to find an all-star team.


bottom of page