Employee Retention Techniques for the Hospitality Industry

Do you experience a high turnover within your business? Are you looking for ways to help retain your current staff in order to save the time and money it takes to train new people? It is no secret that one of the most important facets of the hospitality and foodservice industry is hiring and keeping the best staff.

Hospitality jobs, which include hotel jobs, resort jobs, restaurant jobs and other foodservice jobs, require constant positive interaction between individual employees and guests in order to establish a connection that will keep the business thriving.

Hcareers interviewed people at all levels of the hospitality industry to see what kept employees from leaving their jobs.

Each of those interviewed said that maintaining a busy workplace, a certain comfort level, advancement potential, innovative feedback and addressing of employee’s needs, and a close-knit group were essential in the decision to not look elsewhere for work.


When it comes to employee retention, the process begins at the interview stage. Cindy Humphrey is the restaurant manager at Earl’s Restaurant, a casual dining chain with locations throughout North America.

Humphrey states, “The key is to hire the right people. You’re going to have high turnover if you’re not hiring the right people.”

A good look at an individual’s resume is an important start. Watch out for people with a history of “leapfrogging”, and for those who are reluctant to supply references. Many restaurant jobs are apt to binge hire, taking on groups of people in training in the hopes that a few of them will stay on. This is bad strategy, according to Humphrey.

“Great people attract great people. Employing the right techniques in hiring individuals is key.”


Humphrey herself has been with the same Earl’s location for 15 years. She began part-time while attending university, and upon her graduation decided to stay with the restaurant and was promoted to manager. When asked about the reason for her long stay, Humphrey points to the amount of business the restaurant does.

“I have been to Europe twice with Earl’s, and all over North America. It’s a great restaurant with a great reputation, and it’s busy.”

That level of activity seems to be key among long-term employees. Terrie, Kelly, and Jodi have held long-term restaurant jobs with Kelly O’Bryan’s restaurant for 18 years, 13 years, and seven years respectively. When asked why they have carried on in their foodservice jobs for those years, it is Jody who replies.

“It’s busy,” she says simply. Kelly adds that if Kelly O’Bryan’s isn’t busy, the staff knows that most other restaurants in town are not, either.

“You get a lot of repeat customers, and a lot of that has to do with the quality and the consistency”.



Keturah Neustater managed a staff of 20 at Forster’s Hotel and Convention Centre. One way in which she kept her staff motivated and around was to recognize their individual achievements.

“It might sound silly,” she says, “but I would utilize little things like star charts and weekly rewards. We made it a bit of an inside joke, but the staff really loved it anyway.”


Neustater’s strategy hints at a broader technique when it comes to keeping employees in their hotel jobs, restaurant jobs, or other hospitality jobs. Inside joke or not, there is a certain level of comfort implied in her strategy.

This comfortable atmosphere is a universal key among those interviewed. Raine and his staff get together often for parties, when a particularly positive hotel review comes in, for the end of the season, even for staff birthdays. Humphrey and her staff often get together for food and wine samplings, both at Earl’s and in other restaurants. The staff at Kelly O’Bryan’s can often be seen together about the town.

Michelle Clayton, formerly of Boston Pizza (a restaurant specializing in gourmet pizza and pasta in a casual atmosphere), puts a much finer point on it. “It’s a real family atmosphere. When you feel close as a staff, people are much less likely to leave, even when they may be experiencing some frustrations.”

Certain challenges are a part of the territory when it comes to the foodservice and hospitality industry at all levels, but this does not mean that a high turnover has to be. It is clear that within the right environment, with the right approach, there is much less likelihood that an employee will bounce around from one restaurant job or hotel job to another. And the longer an employee stays, the better they will learn their job. In the end, this expertise will benefit the guests.

The information adapted for this article was provided by Hcareers, the leading online recruitment solution for the hospitality industry. www.Hcareers.ca