In all my years in the restaurant/bar/hospitality industry, I have never encountered the hiring situation we find ourselves in today. I don’t have a single client in any state that has all the employees they need. Some customers have 90% of the staff they need, but most are closer to 50 or 60%.
As I’ve written in the past, the most important thing you can do is retain the staff you have. You gave raises and days off and neglected staff who arrive late or call in at the last minute. All of these are band-aids. The question is: how do I determine what is important to my team and what will make them more committed to my operation?
The answer is to give each employee what they need and not necessarily what they tell you they want.
Distinguish “need” from “want”
There have been excellent employees over the past few years who left their jobs, many of them without having a new job to fill, even after we offered them 20% or 30% raises. For me, it was crazy, and I really felt that there was something missing for me and my clients.
I’ve never been great at applying psychology to our industry. However, after the past two years of not finding employees and losing some of the best employees I have ever known, I knew I had to get out of my own preconceptions about personality assessments and job analysis. motivation. There are quite a few companies that offer this type of test, and I found one that seemed to work for me. The test gives me great insight into what motivates an existing employee, and the test only takes 10-15 minutes.
If money isn’t the motivation, what is?
I have found that the most important part of these reviews is discussing the results with the employee. The first reason is that the employee feels that you are taking the time to spend a very important one-on-one time with him. Employees who feel respected by owners and managers are more dedicated and therefore stay on the job longer. We didn’t even go into the evaluation, but we already affected the employee in a positive way.
Here are some ways that evaluation has helped us to motivate and retain staff.
How are staff most productive? In one example, we gave the assessment to a production chef who started early in the morning and worked alone for the first four hours. In the first paragraph of the review, we learned that this employee would be MOST productive if partnered with another person. This means that while he was productive, he could be happier and more productive with a preparation partner. We have changed the schedule so that the people in charge of the preparation arrive earlier and work as a team. Production is up and no one has left. No raise required!
What are their barriers? As we learned what would make the employee happier and more productive, we spent time looking at a key part of the assessment that is aimed at making the employee more successful. This is a great long-term lesson for the employee, as it will make them better at their job and therefore more valuable in the job market.
In one example, the employee learned that he was not challenged enough and had difficulty expressing his feelings to management. A frustrated employee is the one who will leave as soon as possible. It really opened the lines of communication for the employee and management. We are now in daily contact with this employee in a more meaningful way. No raise required!
What about teamwork? Another thing the employee and manager learned was how this employee could work more productively with a team. What we learned from his evaluation truly applies to all of our staff. They want to understand the rules and structures in advance and at the same time they don’t want to be overwhelmed which makes them feel like they are failing. We also learned the importance of setting up simple means of communication so that staff can let us know their needs. No increase required.
After evaluation, managers become better communicators
I’ve reviewed many studies that show people leave jobs for many reasons, and money is way down the list. The number one reason employees leave their jobs is usually lack of training or lack of respect.
After giving a number of these assessments to employees, managers learned that, on the whole, they were poor communicators. They are good at telling people what to do, but not good at saying thank you or giving feedback. Please note that I said feedback and not positive feedback. What we learned through these reviews is that employees want feedback that makes them better at their job.
Certainly, these assessments are excellent tools for understanding the needs of the employee. However, an evaluation is not magic. It only works if we, as managers and owners, are willing to critically examine ourselves. If the evaluation shows that the employee is not receiving enough feedback or training, that is our problem, not theirs.