Opening a café might have been a dream realized for you, but what about the dreams of your baristas? Coffee houses are considered transient job positions, attractive largely to students, people between jobs, and those striving to break out in another industry. Short-employment terms are the nature of the job, even at the most notable coffee shops.
But like all business owners, you strive to maintain a low turnover rate. Even Starbucks—known for offering higher than average wages and health insurance to their employees—has problems retaining staff. It’s estimated that to replace one barista, Starbucks spends $3,000 in recruiting and training costs.
High turnover rates are costly and disrupt the flow of business. In a high-turnover industry, café owners need to be savvy about retaining staff. Below, we present six ways to hold on to your employees.
1. Hire People Who Care
Depending on the season, being selective can seem like a luxury; but you are urged only to hire people with a sense of hospitality. Since most coffeehouses rely on the business of return customers, giving a great service is vital to maintaining that steady flow of revenue.
Hire people who care about the work. It’s to be expected that employees will pursue other goals, but when they’re on the clock, their energy needs to be put towards your business.
During the interviews, find out if a candidate is a flake with these questions:
- Tell me about the last time you reached out for additional responsibility.
- Tell me about the last time you broke the rules.
- How important is it that your friends are punctual when you make plans together?
- What’s your biggest flaw, and don’t say being a perfectionist!
- How do you respond to criticism from management?
By hiring employees who are serious about the work and its responsibilities, you lower the chances of someone quitting on the fly and leaving you to scramble to fill their position.
2. Create an Irresistible Company Culture
Wages at coffee shops are low—it’s a universal truth. So to retain your employees in spite of that, create an irresistible company culture. Every company has a culture; some just cultivate theirs better than others. Doing so has been useful for Google.
The tech company’s culture is designed to empower employees to be creative and innovative. “Personally, I believe this culture is an insight about the human condition,“ explains Laszlo Bock, Senior Vice President of Google’s People Operations. “People look for meaning in their work. People want to know what’s happening in their environment. People want to have some ability to shape that environment.”
Create a welcoming, inspiring, and inimitable work culture at your coffee shop. More so than a paycheck, an irresistible company culture will make them proud to work there and keep staff energy levels high.
Diversify your workforce and create an emotionally intelligent staff by fostering different cultural backgrounds. Through hiring restaurant staff with diverse backgrounds, you create an environment that welcomes new team members and promotes individuality.
3. Be Generous with Your Staff
What you can’t pay in wages, make up for in generosity:
- Offer free coffee throughout the workday and a meal per shift.
- Give out free swag or merchandise to new employees (not to be confused with a uniform).
- Reward your high-performing employees with gift cards.
- Have a discount, and extend it to friends and family.
Fostering generosity is important. One study found that “the link between employee giving and desirable business outcomes were surprisingly robust.” By giving to your staff, they learn to give back to your business. They become more creative problem-solvers and develop a supportive culture that resonates across the board, from the staff to guests to sales numbers. It’s likelier that staff will want to continue working at your coffee shop in these conditions.
4. Be a Fair and Sympathetic Boss
Be a fair and sympathetic boss to retain your staff. You might have the hippest coffee house with the highest discounts, yet these attributes can’t outshine a bad boss for long. Sooner rather than later, employees will seek employment elsewhere.
Treat your employees like the valuable human beings they are, and listen to their issues. When something about the work environment, your café provides bothers them, show empathy, and make a plan to do better. It’s not enough to say you care, instead, show you care through positive actions. Stop treating restaurant staff like assets and human capital that can easily be replaced, and start treating them like the valued individuals they are.
Be fair in your dealings, and sympathetic to employee needs. Keep your anger and frustrations in check, and never take a personal problem out on your staff. How you behave and treat employees has a direct impact on turnover. The less comfortable you make your employees, the less likely they are to stick around.
5. Use Your POS to Run a Smooth Operation
Everybody loves to work for a smooth-running operation. Use your POS system to avoid mix-ups in scheduling or over-staffing a shift. Lavu POS integrations allow your restaurant to operate like a well-oiled machine without the need for constant monitoring with these benefits:
- Automated scheduling
- Inventory tracking and ordering
- Easy at-the-table payment processing
- Employee sales and progress reports
You can also review the labor reports to help your team improve their weaknesses and applaud their strengths. Show your team you value their efforts when they’re doing the right thing, instead of only correcting them when something is done wrong.
6. Cross-train your Team
Nothing is more frustrating as a café employee than not being able to perform basic duties because it’s “someone else’s job.” Cross-train your team so that all required duties are taken care of, no matter which team member is scheduled to work.
Create a training program that covers the basics of each position, and provide the training to all staff members. When café staff members are armed with the skills they need on days, your café is short-staffed, business runs smoothly, and they are less stressed about their job.
Now how about staying on top of the coffee trends and attracting new customers?