Employee turnover is one of the greatest concerns in the hospitality industry. Although the hospitality industry is one of the largest industries in the world, the rate of employee turnover continuously eats into the industry’s revenue, making it a severe problem, especially among fast food restaurants (Mintah, Commey & Kuuder, 2015). Perhaps one of the reasons for the high employee turnover in fast food restaurant is the nature of the industry and organizational culture, organization performance and personnel issues (Mintah, Commey & Kuuder, 2015). There are a number of ways of improving the turnover and improving job satisfaction in the industry. By implementing the recommendations as discussed, the industry will be able to regain profitability and reduce the high employee turnover.
The nature of the cuisine and the minimal table service are the distinguishing characteristics of fast food restaurants. Fast food restaurants, therefore, serve food largely precooked in advance and kept hot. This food is then packaged to order and is traditionally available for takeaway. While fast food restaurants customarily provide the food on a takeaway basis, other fast foods restaurants provide seating places and spaces for customers who take their meals within the establishment (Morland et al., 2012).
Although there are small independent fast food restaurants, the operations of these establishments are typically a part of chains or franchises. Most of the independent restaurants have specialty menus served to customers. However, chains and franchises usually serve standardized meals across the different locations (Morland et al., 2012). Chains and franchises sometimes also distribute partially prepared foods across the different locations through established supply channels.
In running the operations of a fast food restaurant, a diverse range of employees is a requisite. While the number of employees required in a restaurant is dependent on the size and type of the restaurant, the different categories of employees required in a fast food restaurant is relatively consistent. At the top is the management, where a general manager oversees the operations of a chain to ensure consistency, and has individual restaurant managers reporting to him/her. Smaller restaurants can also have managers performing similar functions, but on a smaller scale. Management can also include assistant managers and accountant. While assistant managers handle employee schedules or daily operations, accountants handle payroll, vendor payment, taxes and ordering.
The nature of fast food restaurants is that they serve food to clients. A chef is therefore a requirement, although most fast food restaurants enlist the services of a head cook. Given the many meals that need preparation, restaurants can also enlist the services of other kitchen staff including individuals responsible for cutting and preparing vegetables, as well as food packagers, dishwashers and bus boys that collect and clean dirty dishes.
The other category of workers in a fast food restaurant is servers who take orders and deliver foods to the clients in sit-down restaurant. However, for drive in or walk in restaurants, there are counter or window servers who take orders and deliver the meals to the customers at the window or counter. Fast food establishments with sitting spaces can also have servers bring the food to the table for clients.
For fast food restaurants that deliver food to the doorstep, a delivery person is an important part of the staff. The delivery personnel are responsible for delivering orders, ensuring that the correct order is delivered to the right customer. Moreover, the delivery personnel also ensure that the client pays for the order, and if need be, provides change to the customer.
The wide range of services that need to be offered in a restaurant require a constant and adequate supply of labor. However, the hospitality industry remains one that has the highest turnover. One of the reasons employees have given for their exit from one restaurant establishment to another is the organizational culture. According to Mintah, Commey & Kuuder (2015), an organization culture characterized by poor morale and low levels of motivation in the workforce is a cause of employee exit from one establishment to another, or another industry altogether. The nature of the organization in its reward system, leadership, commitment to the employees and its policies all converge to determine employees’ stay at an establishment. Therefore, a chaotic architecture without a definite structure, hierarchy and decision making body can easily dishearten employees and cause their exit. Moreover, organizational cultures with unreasonable requirements for employees including mannerism, gait and way of dressing can easily lead to employee exit (Mintah, Commey & Kuuder, 2015).
The second cause of high employee turnover and fast food restaurants in particular, is the performance of the organization. Mintah, Commey & Kuuder (2015) inform that organizations perceived to have economic turbulence have the tendency of raising suspicion of imminent layoffs. Workers are therefore likely to exit such an organization in search of other employment opportunities. Further, in line with the organizational performance is the nature of the job within the organization. Mintah, Commey & Kuuder (2015) enthuse that some jobs are intrinsically more attractive than others are. Even more is that the performance of a rival organization can easily lead to high turnover of the other organization as employees are attracted to the perks, overall performance and the existing relationship between the management and the employees (Morland et al., 2012).
The third reason is personal and inherent in the employees. The bulk of people is largely ambitious and wants both career and personal development. Some hospitality enterprise such as fast food restaurants may not offer employees the opportunity for both career and personal development (Mintah, Commey & Kuuder, 2015). In the absence of career and personal development prospects from their current jobs, most employees would exit in search of better opportunities. Even more is that after working in the hospitality industry for some time, some employees feel they are ill fitted for the job. The hospitality industry largely requires employees to smile with guests, provide warmly welcome and attitude to the guest; sadly, however, not all employees can offer or maintain such exigencies, leading to the high turnover in the hospitality industry.
Establishing an organizational culture that engages employees in their work is one way of reducing the turnover. The organizational culture introduced in this case must be one that allows open communication between the management and the employees, has a clear organizational structure, chain of command and clearly identifies individual responsibilities of each employee within the organization (Mintah, Commey & Kuuder, 2015). The structure should additionally optimize communication between different departments within the organization to avoid any cases of miscommunication and misinformation on the part of employees.
Improving organizational performance must start with improving management performance and its engagement of the employees. The management should not only be able to assure employees of the ability of the organization to survive turbulence, but also engage the employees in finding solutions to the problems it is facing. By engaging employees and making them feel as part of the organization and not only laborers, the organization is able to win employee loyalty, ensuring that employees remain engaged in the work even when the performance of the organization is declining (Mintah, Commey & Kuuder, 2015).
To be able to retain employees, an organization must also assist in the personal and professional development of its employees. Promoting employees by giving them more responsibilities and raising their wages tend to keep employees within the organization. Additionally, by taking employees to training for professional and personal developments helps organizations in retaining their workforce (Mintah, Commey & Kuuder, 2015). Employees are likely to remain engaged at their workplace when they see future prospects in training and promotion. Including these as part of the organization package can therefore help reduce the high turnover in the hospitality industry.
The nature of the hospitality industry is that it offers little if any career prospects and job security, in addition to poor working conditions, all which come together in offering job satisfaction. To improve the level of job satisfaction, especially in fast food restaurants, offering better job prospects and security could go a long way in improving the performance and job satisfaction in the industry. Moreover, better prospects and job security means a good working condition, which is a necessity for exemplary organization performance.
Mintah, P., V., Commey, V. & Kuuder, C., J., W. (2012). Factors accounting for labor turnover in the hospitality industry in Sunyani municipality, Ghana. African Journal of Hospitality, Tourism and Leisure, 4(2), 1-14
Morland, K. et al. (2002). Neighborhood characteristics associated with the location of food stores and food service places. American Journal of Preventive Medicine 22 (1), 23–9