How Can Your Restaurant Survive The Great Resignation?

There is no magic formula for retaining employers in this difficult environment. There are many mitigating factors that will impact whether workers are willing to take certain jobs.

January 27, 2022

An estimated 4.5 million American workers have quit their jobs since the pandemic began, and that number is on the rise. In the restaurant industry, employment is down 8%. One million restaurant workers have resigned, and 30% of them found office jobs, according to Checkers CEO Frances Allen. “I don’t believe we’re necessarily going to get them back,” he added. (source)

Why Are Workers Leaving?

Recent worker satisfaction surveys shine a little light on employee motivations for quitting.

  • Career rut. Forty-three percent of survey respondents said they quit the job because they felt “stuck” in their current position and needed something more satisfying.
  • Low pay and subpar benefits. Nineteen percent of workers resigned because they weren’t getting paid enough and/or the benefits offered did not meet their standards.
  • Worker burnout. Thirteen percent of workers left their job because it didn’t provide enough work-life balance.When Gen Z workers were surveyed, 38% of them said they wanted a job with transparency around paths for career advancement.

The Cost To Businesses

As millions of workers head to greener pastures, businesses hit hard are forced to adjust with reduced production and service, shorter operation hours, and increased workloads for remaining employees. When critical positions go unfilled, some companies are forced to close temporarily or permanently.

How Can Employers Retain Workers?

There is no magic formula for retaining employers in this difficult environment. There are many mitigating factors that will impact whether workers are willing to take certain jobs, especially customer facing roles, in the middle of a pandemic. However, there are some things you can do to improve the chances of success in this hiring market.


Do you have “customer facing” positions that are going unfilled? Consider automating as much of that job as possible. For example, if you’re a restaurant, you might invest in self-checkout kiosks that require very little to no customer interaction. Customer service workers who are skittish about returning to restaurant jobs, may be intrigued by a position that minimizes customer contact. But automation shouldn’t be limited to customer service positions. Focus on automating any tasks (in any job) that are repetitive, dangerous, and that require a lot of attention to detail. Automation can help reduce errors and employee stress.

Improve Working Conditions

Get honest feedback from employees and invest in a paid consultant if possible to find out how you can improve your workplace to entice and retain quality employees. Workplace flaws pop up in a myriad of places: policies, procedures, work processes, management, and employee interactions. Put your workplace under the microscope to understand what improvements you could make that will pay off in employee retention.

Provide Flexible Hours

As the pandemic continues, schools and other facilities may need to unexpectedly close due to virus infection surges. Some workers may need flexible hours so they can care for a child, grandchild or other dependants. Create a work-from-home system that makes it easy for employees to work remotely when necessary. Of course, not all jobs can be done remotely. In those cases, provide ample personal time off so that employees can take a leave of absence in case of illness or other personal matters.

Pay More

One of the easiest ways to retain workers is by offering competitive wages. But since what is considered “competitive” is a moving target, it’s important that you pay attention to the shifting cost of living in your city. Ask these questions:

  • Do I pay enough for my workers for basics such as housing, food, and transportation in my city?
  • How much are my competitors paying workers in comparable positions?
  • What is the national average wage for this position? (many workers are relocating to get higher pay or a lower cost of living)
  • Is it more profitable for me to retain this employee with higher pay? If it’s a high quality employee that would be difficult to replace, the answer is most likely ‘yes.’

Don’t have enough cash flow to increase employee wages? There are other ways to attract and retain employees even without high wages.

Develop Strategic Partnerships For Employee Perks

It’s true that when it comes to compensating employees — Cash is King. However, employee perks (and benefits) could be easily considered Queen and just as enticing to new hires and existing workers. Consider partnering with a local (or national) brand to provide valuable perks. Below are a few possibilities:

  • free or discounted gym membership
  • free or discounted childcare
  • free career mentorship/coaching
  • discounted meal delivery service
  • transportation vouchers or reimbursement
  • pet insurance
  • free educational opportunities
  • tuition assistance
  • quarterly gift cards for excellent job performance

Survey your employees to find out which perks entice them the most.

Pave A Path To Advancement

No matter how “small” an employee’s role, create a system where all workers are nurtured, cultivated, and groomed to advance in your organization. As a matter of fact, every employee should have a plan for advancement in place so that they know what they’re aiming for in their everyday work life. These “plans for advancement” should provide ample and structured opportunities to receive mentorship, training, and projects that will stretch their skills. People who feel they are growing in a company are not likely to leave.

If you want to survive the great resignation, you will need to take an employee-centered approach to hiring, compensating, and cultivating your workers.

West Coast Franchise Law

If you have any questions about franchising, please contact the experienced franchise and business law attorneys at West Coast Franchise Law today at (206) 903-0401 to discuss your situation. Nate Riordan is a 2023 Franchise and Bankruptcy Super Lawyer with over 20 years expertise helping clients achieve their business goals.