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7 strategies to reduce staff turnover in hospitality

Updated: Jan 16, 2023

It's commonplace to see staff-wanted signs sitting in windows and on doors of restaurants, pubs, and cafes. Any owner will tell you the most challenging part of running a food service business is staffing. Finding hard-working, loyal staff is not an easy task.

According to data from Fourth, despite staffing numbers across hospitality being at a two-year high, with the overall headcount up 21.7% from June 2021, the sector is still struggling with high staff turnover, with 5.7% of the workforce leaving in June 2022.

The sector is already facing challenging levels of staff shortages. According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS) the number of hospitality job vacancies increased by 83% between March and May 2022 compared to the same period in 2019.

High staff turnover can not only be frustrating but affect your bottom line. The time and money that goes into advertising, interviewing, and training staff over and over again, is most likely harming your business and preventing you from investing in other areas.

Yes, the hospitality industry as a whole is facing huge staffing challenges however, your business doesn't need to reflect these challenges. There are some simple strategies you can put in place to retain your staff and reduce your staff turnover.

Calculate your staff turnover

First things first carry out your very own employee turnover health check. To improve your staff turnover, you need to be aware at what point you are stating from- the real size of the problem and not just your perception. For this, you need to calculate your staff turnover ratio, it's easier than it sounds.

How to make the calculation

Divide the number of employees who have left by the average number of employees it takes to be fully staffed, and then multiply the resulting number by 100 to get a percentage.


Last year you lost 15 employees. Typically your restaurant is fully staffed with 25 employees

15 divided by 25 = 0.6

0.6 multiplied by 100 = 60%

That is a big number. The hospitality sector has an employee turnover rate of 30%, which is double that of the UK average.

7 ways to reduce staff turnover

1. Hire the right staff

Reducing staff turnover starts with hiring the right people. When you are short-staffed, it is tempting to hire whoever walks through the door; this could be more harmful to your business than being short-staffed. Staff attitude and due diligence can cost you customers and damage a reputation that has taken years to build.

Assess, examine, and verify

Assess their attitude, experience, skill set, and desire for the job by asking a range of questions in a face-to-face interview. Ask scenario-style questions to get a feel of how they will respond to situations.

Examine the answers. Do they hold the skills you are looking for? Will they fit with your business culture? Could you see them getting on with the rest of your team? A well gelled team is vital in reducing staff turnover. Personality can sometimes be more important than qualifications.

Verify, check references, and be sure that they are as good as they seem and not just spinning you a great sales pitch.

2. Offer fair pay

The core reason why people leave their hospitality job is pay. By providing competitive pay you will attract more applicants. Offering small regular pay increases will retain the staff you already have. Low pay may seem a surefire way to cut costs however, it will almost certainly result in a high staff turnover. Just think about the time, energy, and money that goes into recruiting and training, not to mention the disruption it has on your business.

3. Control over work and shift patterns

We know giving staff control over the shifts that they work is not always doable, however, if you are seen to be accommodating when possible it can go a long way. According to a survey by YouGov, unsociable working hours are one of the top reasons the sector suffers from a low annual staff retention rate.

4. Provide quality training

Set your staff up for success and provide them with the knowledge and skills to help you grow your business. Providing training not just at the start of employment but on a regular basis will show you value them and create a more loyal employee.

Also, cross-train staff so they are able to do multiple different tasks, allowing them to learn new skills, show that they are trusted with new responsibilities, and prevent them from getting bored. Cross-trained staff is also helpful when other team members are sick or leave, allowing you to continue business operations as normal.

5. Show your appreciation

It may sound simple, but in a busy work environment, saying “Thank you” to staff is often forgotten. Acknowledging hard work is appreciated by staff and often provides increased motivation.

6. Offer opportunities for advancement

Many employees leave jobs as they feel they can not advance their career. Talk to your staff, learn what they are interested in, and support staff keen to progress within the company. Encouraging them to move up the ladder will reassure them that they should continue to work for you.

7. Conduct exit interviews

It allows your employee an opportunity to open up about why they have chosen to leave. Your job as an owner or manager in an exit interview is to listen, try not to feel the need to justify your actions. Use the feedback to address any issues and make improvements within the business.

According to Deputy data, the hospitality sector has an employee turnover rate of 30% – double that of the UK average. But your business doesn't need to reflect this industry average. Look after your staff by using the above strategies, and free up your time and energy to focus on growing your business.


Retaining-Staff, UKhospitality, Accessed in November 2022


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