How to Improve Employee Retention in Seasonal Restaurants

Seasonal restaurants may be increasing in popularity, but are nothing new for areas like Door County, Wisconsin and other vacation destinations. These restaurants typically operate through specific dates of the year related to the weather and travel seasons. While the restaurant industry can be challenging, seasonal restaurants face their own set of unique challenges. Since these restaurants must pack all of their sales into just a few months, hiring and keeping the right employees can make or break the season. So, how does a seasonal restaurant owner retain top talent when they only operate a few months out of the year?

1. Invest in an Experienced Manager

Hire someone who has previous experience in the seasonal restaurant industry and who is equipped to handle the unique challenges. A manager well-versed in the delicate dance of managing and assigning employees shifts in the seasonal service industry has a keen eye for who is likely to return next season.

2. Provide an Incentive for Returning Employees

Hire and develop ahead of the need (as best you can), by developing a list of returning employees you want to stay engaged with. At the end of the season, request a list of employee recommendations from your manager. Offer a higher starting pay along with a letter of appreciation to the employees who exhibited the most growth and promise during the season. Another option is to offer some type of tuition reimbursement. Since many season employees are college aged, this might be a great option for your business.

3. Show Employee Appreciation

When employees feel that their work is valued, they will want to keep performing at a higher level, keep producing quality work, and will become more enthusiastic about their role. Boost morale by recognizing employees with company awards, dinners, shift shout outs, team outings, and monetary incentives. Demonstrate energy and enthusiasm when new team members join the restaurant.

4. Be Responsive to Team Suggestions & Concerns

Organizing a large group of people is no easy task and sometimes it may seem easier to place employee concerns or ideas on the back burner. But don’t; employees will take note. Seasonal restaurant managers are at the helm and should remain responsive and open to employee suggestions—making sure to hear concerns at the appropriate venue (closed doors, staff meeting, etc.).

5. Remain Transparent

Communicate your needs, expectations and goals to your employees. A team that is invested in succeeding together and knows what’s expected is likely to feel fulfilled and demonstrate higher performance. When the season is winding down be sure to promote your incentives (refer back to #2) and conclude with thanking your employees. Make sure employees know what they would be missing out on if they chose to not return for the next season.

Interested in learning more on restaurant employee related topics? Check out our HR blog series for additional blog posts on relevant topics for your business and employees.

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As a mutual insurance company, we operate and exist for the benefit of our policyholders. For more than 100 years, Society has been helping businesses overcome the unexpected with comprehensive coverage packages and outstanding claims handling, underwriting and risk management.

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