How to retain employees in the coming labor crisis.

Prior to the pandemic, Canada’s foodservice sector employed over a million people, and according to Statistics Canada, it currently needs to fill over 150,000 positions to reach pre-pandemic levels. That said, the Canadian restaurant industry has been struggling with hiring and retention for many years.

As many or more than 30% of people have worked in the foodservice sector at some point in there lives. For the most part, it’s a first job for youth trying to get there feet wet in the workplace. It’s not an unknown fact that the restaurant industry is basically a transient work environment. The question is why and how to attract and retain quality employees. It seems with the current situation, it has become increasingly difficult to attract employees, never mind retaining them. Today, I would like to assume you have already attracted some qualified people…how do you keep them coming back?


To find out why your top performer quit, consider AN EXIT INTERVIEW. This can help determine whether your employee retention strategies need improvement — and what specifically you should do to increase their effectiveness.

More than likely, you’ll hear the departing employee cite one or more of the following reasons for leaving their job:

  • Inadequate salary and benefits
  • Feeling overworked and/or unsupported
  • Limited job growth
  • A need for better work-life balance
  • Lack of recognition
  • Boredom
  • Unhappiness with management
  • Concerns about the company’s direction or financial health
  • Dissatisfaction with the company culture
  • The desire to make a change

The COVID-19 pandemic is, not surprisingly, a major factor why many workers are rethinking their employment situation. Research from Robert Half finds that 27% of professionals surveyed feel their career has stalled since the start of the crisis. That number jumps to 55% for workers ages 18 -24.

Among those who said their career has stalled, about half reported that they’ve seen stagnation in salary growth, career advancement and skills development. Additionally, our research found that 28% of workers whose feelings toward their work have changed due to the pandemic want to pursue a more meaningful or fulfilling job.

Employee retention strategies for increasing job satisfaction

  • Orientation; Your number one on this list for many reasons. The training and support you provide from Day One, whether in person or virtually, can set the tone for the employee’s entire tenure at your firm.
  • Employee compensation — It’s essential for companies to pay their employees competitive compensation, which means they need to evaluate and adjust salaries regularly. Even if your business isn’t able to increase pay right now, consider whether you could provide other forms of compensation, like bonuses and paid time off. Don’t forget about health benefits and retirement plans, too. Improving those valued offerings can help raise employees’ job satisfaction.
  • Perks — Perks can make your workplace stand out to potential new hires and re-engage current staff, all while boosting employee morale.
  • Continuous feedback on performance — Many employers are abandoning the annual performance review in favour of more frequent meetings with team members. In these one-on-one meetings, talk with your employees about their short- and long-term professional goals and help them visualize their future with the company.
  • Recognition and rewards systems — Every person wants to feel appreciated for the work they do. And in today’s “anywhere workforce,” an employer’s gratitude can make an especially big impact.
  • Acknowledgement of milestones, big and small — A final tip for promoting employee retention is to shine a light on notable achievements.

It’s inevitable that some team members will leave your organization sooner than you’d like. But you can at least make their decision a little tougher. And if those employees leave your firm knowing they were valued and supported, they’ll likely say good things about your business and, perhaps, even come back to work for you one day.


I was quite young when I owned my first restaurant, 27 to be exact. I had very limited funds for anything, especially extra employees. What I did have was a good relationship with my employees. I couldn’t pay a lot, but when I had extra capital, I invested in my employees. I did this with paid short term training, apprenticeships, and staff appreciation. In addition, I was honest with my employees, encouraged them and treated them like human beings. In essence they were part of a family. At the end of the day, people need to be appreciated, and feel that they are part of something special. This is what brings people back, not just money. Have a great day, keep your stick on the ice…we are all in this together!