Are You Surveying Your Team?
by David Klemt
Successful recruitment is only one element of overcoming the current labor shortage—retention is another crucial element.
In fact, employee turnover can be incredibly costly. According to the Center for Hospitality Research at Cornell, employee turnover costs nearly $6,000 per hourly team member.
Now, consider what it costs to hire a single employee. On average, it costs $3,500 to hire that worker in the first place. So, the math is simple: Losing an employee costs an operator more than hiring one.
Unsurprisingly, turnover cost more than doubles—nearly $14,000—for a restaurant manager. In short, employee retention is arguably more important than recruitment and hiring.
Per Datassential, 33 percent of 801 survey respondents say the labor shortage is their greatest challenge in 2022. More than 70 percent of those respondents are independent operators.
However, independent, chain, and franchise operators appear to agree on one particular element of the challenge. Across segments, hiring hourly back-of-house employees is the most difficult.
In fact, Datassential’s latest FoodBytes report states that restaurants are coming up short in the kitchen. Two-thirds of restaurants are struggling to fill open hourly cook positions.
So, what’s the solution? Higher starting wages? Bonuses for remaining in role for 90 days? Benefits like health insurance and a 401K?
Each of those does work—for recruitment and hiring. What keeps a new hire from leaving after 90 days with their bonus cash, heading down the road to the next restaurant or bar?
It’s commonly agreed that the first 90 days of a new hire’s employment are the most crucial. Wages and benefits keep them in role for roughly three months. During that time, they’re deciding if their role and the employer’s culture are for them.
If you’re an owner, operator, or member of the leadership team, you know the importance of data. In fact, you should be obsessed with data collection and analysis.
Truly, the best way to make decisions that will impact the business is with information. Guesswork just doesn’t cut it. Yes, you should pay close attention to your “gut.” However, you should avoid acting on gut instincts before analysing the relevant data.
Wisely, many operators encourage their guests to complete satisfaction surveys. After all, their feedback is crucial to the success of any business. But what about employee surveys? Your team is equally as important as your guests.
Unhappy team members, unhappy guests. Unhappy guests, reduction in traffic. Team members fleeing your business? Your guests pick up on turnover. Eventually, you won’t have a business.
Now, you can assume your team is happy. You can feel like your leadership team is ensuring employee satisfaction and engagement. Or, you can know.
How do you know? You ask.
Call it a satisfaction survey, call it a happiness survey… Either way, you’re asking your team members how happy they are with you and their role.
Operators will likely want to keep these surveys anonymous. Several sources that address employee surveys claim most employees prefer anonymity. Unfortunately, this is due to a fear of retribution from ownership or the leadership team.
Even with a healthy workplace culture, anonymity is probably the best for these surveys. Of course, if you’re implementing a 90-day happiness survey for new hires, anonymity doesn’t make much sense.
As far as company-wide survey frequency, there are several options. Once per year is obviously the bare minimum. Therefore, it’s not very effective. Every six months is better but is checking in on your team’s happiness twice per year enough?
The sweet spot appears to be quarterly surveys. More than that—monthly or bi-monthly—will likely get annoying.
Below are a few questions to consider for your surveys. You’ll have to decide if you want to use multiple-choice, yes or no, matrix, or open-ended questions, or a mix of each type.
Another consideration is how your team will access the survey. The process needs to be as painless as possible. So, consider pushing a link via your scheduling platform, text, or QR code.
- How happy are you working here?
- How happy are you in your current role?
- Would you recommend us to friends and family as a good place to work?
- Does the leadership team make you feel valuable?
- Do you see yourself working here a year from now?
- Are we helping you succeed in your role?
- Are we giving you what you need to progress in your career?