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How to stop your Best Staff Leaving (without giving them a pay rise)

With annual staff turnover running at over 60% according to some surveys it’s a huge problem for the industry.


In an industry that can be physically and emotionally taxing, it’s no surprise that people aren’t always comfortable and fractures can form in even the strongest of teams. Staff retention is something that massively affects the day-to-day running of any hospitality establishment; not only having enough workers, but the right calibre of worker is essential to being able to offer your product or service the way in which it was intended.


As hospitality recruiters we’ve got a vested interest in making sure that once we’ve placed a candidate they stay in post.  So we wanted to get a bit of an insight into what pushes hospitality professionals into leaving their jobs, and what can be done to make them stay.


So we asked one thousand hospitality professionals (via a very unscientific Twitter survey):


“What one thing is most likely to make you want to leave your job?”


There are an immeasurable number of factors as to why somebody may want to leave their jobs, so we went with 4 common reasons that we, as former hospitality professionals, have experienced in the past:

Not Paid What you deserve

Having a rude/shouty Boss

No Promotion Prospects

Don’t get on with the Team


With the constant media focus on low wages in hospitality we were working on the hypothesis that inadequate pay would be the number one reason for people looking to change job. We were wrong.

Points scored

With almost a third of the vote, ‘Having a rude/shouty boss’ came top of the pile. This was followed by ‘pay issues’ and ‘not getting on with your team’ which were almost neck and neck. ‘No promotion prospects’ is apparently the least important factor in deciding if you want to leave your job or not.


So what does our survey tell us?


Perhaps the days of Ramsay/Marco-esque, totalitarian style of kitchen management are now over. People are starting to question why it’s acceptable in the hospitality industry for managers to belittle and berate their employees, in a way that could be grounds for arrest in other industries.

It tells us that even if you’ve not got much scope for increasing salaries you can still make a big difference to you staff turnover by simply working on how you manage your people and train your managers.

And the negative impact of the shouty/rude boss may be even worse than the numbers suggest.  In our experience it’s often the best staff who are least tolerant of a poor management style.  Professionals who are good at their job tend to have a sense of their own worth and expect to be treated with respect by their managers. They are sufficiently confident of their own value in the job market to quickly walk away from a boss who treats them badly.  Whereas less competent performers may be less sure of their ability to find a new role and so more inclined to put up with a bad boss for longer.

Politeness costs nothing and could reduce your staff turnover by nearly a third.

Maybe it’s time for a change in hospitality management style? We still often refer to hospitality teams as a “brigade” or “crew”. But actually your staff didn’t sign up for military service and may not want to be managed by a sergeant major type boss.

Perhaps a focus on “Team” rather than “brigade” and “leader” rather than “boss” might help to reduce the damaging levels of staff turnover in the industry.


Boss And Leader


As we said, our survey was deeply unscientific, but it does provide food for thought.

There are any number of reasons why people choose to leave a job, but if you have a particularly high level of turnover in some areas of your business, maybe some time spent coaching your managers on how to “lead” rather than “boss” could help to keep your best staff with you for longer.

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