December 1, 2015 |

Respecting the Craft: Employee Turnover

By Tony Gemignani

A better economy means good help becomes hard to find

Tony Gemignani World-champion Pizzaiolo and Pizzeria Owner

Tony Gemignani
World-champion Pizzaiolo and Pizzeria Owner

I am sure you have noticed lately it’s been getting tougher and tougher to keep and hire employees, especially in California. With the unemployment rate getting lower and the economy getting better it has become increasingly difficult for us to keep staffers. We are getting busier, contractors are building again, our credit is getting stronger, the housing boom is back, minimum wage is at its highest — yet we are struggling to keep employees. It’s not always you, especially if you’re a busy or semi-busy restaurant, and below are some reasons why.

  • The grass is always greener. As the economy gets better and more restaurants and companies are building and opening around us, we’ve gotten an influx of employees who think the grass is always greener somewhere else (and sometimes it could be). These employees tend to jump ship. More places are new and hiring and less places are going out of business, which means a lot of opportunity for workers. Because of this, you will get an employee that tends to bounce from place to place. I hate that, especially when you went through the trouble of training and spent time for development and then all of the sudden they leave. What ever happened to hard work and loyalty?
  • Minimum wage. The employees who make minimum wage, like dishwashers and bussers who don’t make tips, will tend to look around for other jobs. This is especially true when you’re a busy restaurant. Why would anyone work twice as hard when they can make the same pay and do half the amount of work? These positions can be the hardest to fill and keep.
  • Important for the resumé. It’s funny when you find a previous employee bragging about where they worked and/or using it to their advantage in getting another job. We have seen this a lot at a couple of my restaurants. We’ve seen employees come through who work for three months just so they can say that they’ve worked at one of my places. I cringe when this happens. Trained chefs tend to do this a lot, especially right out of culinary school. Or, they just want to stage. This isn’t such a bad thing when the flip side is going through the process of hiring and firing. Be aware of any new employees. Always check references. They may be working for the guy down the street and they want more insight on your day-to-day operations. A 90-day probationary period can also be to your benefit if you get an employee that just doesn’t work out. This can save you from a lot of headaches down the road when it comes to letting an employee go after finding out they don’t fit. An ND (non-disclosure) agreement may also protect you and scare away some possible
    employees that have other intentions.

There are other reasons as well, and I’ll continue with Part II of this article next month where we will examine some other causes of employee turnover, such as housing costs, rising inflation and even how your concept impacts your hiring.

RESPECTING THE CRAFT features World Pizza Champion Tony Gemignani, owner of Tony’s Pizza Napoletana in San Francisco and Pizza Rock in Sacramento.  Tony compiles the column with the help of his trusty assistants, Laura Meyer and Thiago Vasconcelos. If you have questions on any kitchen topic ranging from prep to finish, Tony’s your guy. Send questions via Twitter @PizzaToday, Facebook (search: Pizza Today) or e-mail and we’ll pass the best ones on to Tony.