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Trends of Restaurant Employee Pay Increases and Retention


The Great Resignation of 2021 and 2022 leaves no industry behind. Restaurants have had an incredibly tough lot over the past few years. Things are becoming difficult again as all the staff who were fired or laid off due to the pandemic need to be replaced.

Restaurants not only need to rehire and train new staff, but they are all having to do it at the same time, meaning they are competing for the very best workers. Many restaurants are opting to offer incentives and pay increases to attract prospective hires better.

Offering incentives and higher wages can put the ball back in the court of hiring managers. Instead of scrambling for any hire who will take the position, smart managers can alter the situation to attract better talent and assurances that they will take the job.

This practice produces an overall positive gain because it is raising the bar for all employees and workplace standards. This is especially important as society is now just beginning to recognize front-of-house staff as akin to front-line workers and back-of-house as essential to keeping so many fed.

Let’s look at the new industry standards in employee pay, incentives, and retention practices.

Pay Increases

With the Great Resignation, many are leaving their jobs because they are not happy with their pay, or their values do not align with that of the company. People are able to do this on such a large scale because there are so many openings available, which means they can leave an unhappy situation without fear of ending up any worse off.

Looking for a pay increase is a big reason many are searching elsewhere. In 2021, 7 out of 10 employees received a raise without asking for it, which is one big way to keep staff happy.

In a massive survey of restaurant industry employees, 11% said they would leave their job for a raise of $1 to $1.75 per hour, and 38% said they would leave for a raise of $4.

This is nearly 50% of restaurant employees who would leave for a raise of $4 or less, an amount which is within the means of most restaurants to offer. If not the full amount, then half plus other incentives and benefits would also likely do the trick!

Tip Pooling

Along with raises for staff, another technique for retaining staff has been increased equity. Traditionally, the front-of-house staff has taken home the majority of the tips – particularly the serving staff. Support staff like bussers and expediters receive a small fraction of these tips, and then the kitchen distributes tips from every server amongst themselves.

But since the pandemic, there has been a much higher reliance on the kitchen staff. With delivery and takeout, orders often bypass serving staff entirely.

While kitchen staff is not getting to know customers, sharing anecdotes, or going the extra mile with pleasantries and thoughtfulness, they prepare the meal (including its components), clean the dishes, and sweat it out in a loud hot kitchen.

Back-of-house staff may not be the face of the experience, but it sometimes bears reminding that there would be no experience without the food. For these reasons, the shift to tip pooling has been important. Luckily there have been different tools and options which have emerged to help support this transition.

Health Benefits

Many restaurants are beginning to incentivize by providing health benefits for their staff. With the massive health scares that have been terrifying the globe over the past few years, this is a major attractor.

In fact, not receiving health benefits is one of the biggest reasons that workers opt to leave the restaurant industry.

Emphasize Teamwork

Build an across-the-board family mentality to keep restaurant staff happy, wanting to stay, and working hard to do a good job.

Restaurants have long been known as sometimes toxic places to work. It is crucial to turn the page on that dark era and demonstrate that the staff is a team. Family meals, team-building activities, tip pooling, and benefits can all show employees that they matter.

Mentorships within the restaurant are a great way of building connections and recruiting from within.

This strategy can also discourage bad behavior and let go of toxic employees.

In conclusion, finding a way of retaining your staff does not have to be difficult. The writing is on the wall when it comes to the changing tides of the industry.

The best first step is finding support and tools that will give staff the best chance to start on a new footing. Applications such as Tiphaus can be adapted to pre-existing systems, so the only question is, what are you waiting for?



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