PULSE MEETINGS: Our Top Employee Retention Strategy
Updated: Jun 21
People quit continually, this is a sad reality in the restaurant industry that we need to battle every day as restaurant owners and managers.
We need to have a retention strategy in place to keep our employees in our company, especially the top-performing ones.
First, we need to understand why people actually leave their jobs.
There are 6 main reasons why restaurant workers abandon their posts:
1. External factors - it is not because you are a bad leader or manager, some factors are not in our control such as health issues, graduation, personal matters, etc.
2. Poor compensation and benefits - they found a different place that pleases them more.
3. The schedule - they may not be happy with the number of hours they are getting, perhaps too many or too little.
4. Conflict with team members and managers - some may not necessarily be getting along with their colleagues or managers.
5. Career advancement - this is a challenge for small businesses like us, we can't offer them career growth that maybe some of them are hoping for, they feel stagnant with the jobs that they are in.
6. They don’t feel valued and appreciated - a lot of statistics show that most employees, in general, don't feel valued and appreciated, and by that we've done a poor job communicating the fact that we value our people.
Do you know that these issues can be solved by one strategy that you can implement to your company?
The one thing that can reduce your turn over, and increase your retention rate is PULSE MEETINGS. This has been our top strategy when it comes to improving our employee's retention rate.
Pulse meetings are short team status meetings wherein the Project Management Team gathers project performance information about the activities that they have initiated.
These meetings should occur frequently and can be done either in person or virtually that last for only a few minutes in duration.
By conducting Pulse Meetings, you can achieve the following benefits:
👉 Build rapport with your team members - you must build a deeper relationship with your people.
We know that the restaurant is busy, people are on the clock so we can't just get in and chat with them.
If you lead and create a culture where folks on the clock just stand around and talk too much, it will not be healthy, especially for your labor percentage.
Pulse meetings are a great way for you to steal and systematically create pockets of time that are very focused and concise where you can utilize those times to build relationships with your people.
👉 Check in to make sure the team member is doing well personally - you can measure if you have a healthy relationship with your staff by constantly checking how they feel and think.
👉 Gather specific intel so we can serve our team better - you can ask specific questions to get definite answers.
👉 Re-engage the disengaged by identifying why they are disengaged and come up with a counter plan - Statistics show that 70% of employees in the US are disengaged.
A disengaged employee is somebody who doesn't care anymore about the success of the team.
As soon as you identify people who are disengaged, work on bringing them back to focus, understand and figure out how you can help them, especially if they think of quitting.
To run an effective Pulse Meeting, you must consider these 7 quick tips:
1. Keep it concise. The meeting should only last from 5 to 10 minutes so that it would not hold too much time, make it quick but worthwhile.
2. Do it in a semi-private place. The dining room or the office are ideal places to have it.
3. Do it once to twice a month per team member. Having it one to two times a month for each team member is the ideal frequency, and if you sense tension or disengagement, immediately preside over so things would not get worse.
4. Be purposeful. You must communicate the vision and the purpose of the meeting up front, for instance, you can tell a team member, “Hey, the reason I am meeting with you is to simply check-in and get some feedback we can work together better and be a stronger team.”
5. Ask specific questions. Don't beat around the bush, to get specific answers, ask specific questions.
6. Formal but casual. Be formal by being objective and staying professional, but make it in a manner that your team member would feel comfortable by showing a friendly attitude.
7. Document/log details. You need to record important points that you and your team members have talked about so you can refer to it later.
How do you conduct daily Pulse Meeting to specifically target the 6 main reasons why restaurant employees quit their jobs hence increasing your retention rate?
Here are some factors to consider and specific questions that you can ask your employees:
1. External factors - You may have done everything to keep your people content, however, there will always be some of them who will quit because of factors that are out of our control like having low grades in school, a shift in their priorities, health issues, personal reasons, etc.
Observe if any possible changes are happening in the team members' life so that you can anticipate change before it happens by conducting Pulse Meetings.
✔ What are their plans after graduation?
-If they are in college, ask them about their plans after graduation because this will give you an idea which month are they most likely going to quit in reference to their graduation day.
-This will give you enough time to prepare someone else to take on that position so the operations will not be affected.
✔ How are they doing in school? What grades they are getting, etc.
-You need to know how many credits do they have in school, how many classes they attend, what is their grades, etc.
-Gather intel to figure out if they are not doing well in school, then they must be thinking of dropping school or their jobs, or they might reduce their hours of work.
✔ Is football season coming up?
-Since we hire mostly high school students in our restaurant who are into football, so football season becomes a huge deal for us.
-For instance, we ask them this way, "Are there any upcoming changes happening in your personal life that may affect the times and the hours you work that I need to be aware of?"
-We also say, "Would you just come to me directly when something comes up even if it may or may not happen in the next 3 months? I simply would like to make sure our team is taken care of."
-Use those two valuable questions above for you to make sure that your employees are aware that you are concerned and you want to know if something's coming down the pike.
-When your staff is involved in different extra-curricular activities in school, you need to always have a pulse on what is going on with them, follow-up and monitor for you to foresee if they are nearly quitting so you can plan ahead of time.
2. Poor compensation and benefits - Poor compensation and benefits can make your employees unmotivated, they feel discouraged land worse, quit their jobs.
Having regular Pulse Meetings can help you find out the level of dissatisfaction that the team member has with their current compensation.
✔ On a scale of 1 to 10, how happy are they with their hourly rate?
-Determine if they are satisfied with their hourly rate, and if not, ask the follow-up question below.
✔ What would be a fair compensation or hourly rate for them?
-Ask them to tell you more about that so you can have an agreement to resolve any issue with their compensation.
✔ Come up with a plan with the team member on how they can increase their skill set, take on more responsibility and consequently get a raise in a specific timeline.
-For instance, John who is currently making $6 an hour is asking for $10, explain what duties may be added to his present role for him to fairly get a $2 raise.
-You may say, "Susan is currently making $10 per hour because she can work in the app station, pizza station, as well as doing the scheduling, and you are only working to pizza station, I will be happy to give a 10 bucks an hour if you can do the same tasks as Susan."
-Conduct special training if necessary for that employee to acquire new skills for you to be able to grant the salary increase.
-You can ask, "Are you able to come on a Saturday within the next four weeks for you to learn how to work in the app station and then start running it after that?"
-Let them understand that there is a path forward or things that they need to if they request for a higher salary.
✔ On a scale of 1 to 10, how happy are they with their benefits?
-Ask them what benefits would they like, some companies such as Starbucks even give Spotify membership as a benefit! So be creative.
-For instance, if they have an employee discount, and they request their family members to have the same benefit but you can't say yes, negotiate and offer an alternative.
-You can say, "I really wish we could give all our team member's family discount, however, we are not able to do it all week, but maybe we can do that on Mondays from 8 to 5 PM, how about that?"
-Get their feedback and always be quick to not say no and give options instead.
3. The schedule - This is something you may not know, they would not proactively tell you about it since you agreed with a fixed schedule in the beginning.
Through Pulse Meetings, determine how you can work with the team member to come up with a win-win game plan for both parties, you and the team member need to compromise, it's all about negotiation!
✔ On a scale of 1 to 10, how happy are they with the number of hours they work?
✔ On a scale of 1 to 10, how happy are they with the days and hours they’ve been working?
✔ Do they want more hours? Ask them to tell you more about that.
-If you’d require more skill set from them to give them more hours just tell them what they need to do.
-Say for example, “I understand you need more hours to pay for college. Here is the thing, in the afternoon, I need someone who knows both stations. If you learn app station in the next 2 weeks and pass the score X on your quick or time trials, then I’ll be able to give you more hours.”
4. Conflict with team members and managers - You may never know about this unless you ask specific questions to get definite answers.
By facilitating Pulse Meetings frequently, you can identify if there has been any tension and conflict between team members, or if there has been any misunderstanding between the management team.
✔ Has the expectation been clearly laid out?
-Avoid miscommunications by setting the right expectations.
✔ On a scale of 1 to 10, how do they feel about their team?
✔ What do you like about their team or the people they work with?
✔ What’s the one thing they’d change about how they get along with their team?
✔ On a scale of 1 to 10, how fairly do they believe they are being treated at work?
5. Career advancement - When people feel that there are no more opportunities to grow professionally in your company, they think of leaving to look for greener pastures somewhere else.
By having Pulse Meeting weekly, you can detect what’s the next step the team member would like to take with the company, find out what their ambition is, or their future desire and how you can help them get there.
✔ On a scale of 1 to 10, how bored do they feel on the job?
✔ What specific things would they like to learn next?
✔ On a scale of 1 to 10, how equipped do they feel about what’s expected of their roles at work?
✔ What are the 3 areas they’d like to improve in the next 3 months?
✔ What kind of support do they need from you to make this happen?
6. They don’t feel valued and appreciated
- This is one of the most common reasons why employees resigned from their jobs so we have to communicate effectively that they are worthy and we thank them for their contribution to our company.
Doing frequent Pulse Meetings is a big help for you to figure out if the team member knows that indeed, we value them and determine how they would want to feel appreciated.
✔ On a scale of 1 to 10, how valued do they feel at work?
✔ When was the last time that one of their managers thanked them for their good work?
✔ What is their love language? (Gifts, quality time, words of affirmation, physical touch, and acts of service)
-It matters for you as a restaurant owner to identify what is the love language that each of your employees prefers.
-For instance, some may appreciate a simple "Excellent job!" as words of affirmation, but to some, it may mean nothing because they prefer a physical touch like giving them a high five as a way of making them feel "loved" or valued.
As a leader of an organization, you need to be constantly monitoring people's pulse.
You can discern by knowing your people because if you know each of your employees, it will be easier for you to do that.
Conducting frequent pulse meetings will get you a grasp of whether your employees are quitting sooner or later, come up with a contingency plan before it even happens.
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