Are Restaurant Employee Training and Staff Turnover Correlated? New Study Says Yes

By: Aris Apostolopoulos

7 Minute Read

Apr 12, 2019

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Take a moment to think of somebody you know who works in the restaurant industry. They might serve, they might cook, they might book tables. Oh, and they might leave their job soon.

According to the National Restaurant Association, there are 15.1 million employees in the restaurant industry; by 2028, the number will be higher by 1.6 million. Even though the numbers are growing, according to The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2016 the restaurant turnover rate surpassed an incredible 70%.

But why? 

It's mainly because employees feel stuck, and job satisfaction is jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire. This is one of many takeaways from TalentLMS's recent survey on F&B employee training titled “What’s Wrong with Employee Training in Food and Beverage SMBs?” 

Though the survey’s objectives were to identify the state of employee training in this 8.1-trillion-dollar industry, so much more came to the surface around the intimate relationship between training and overall workplace happiness. 

Working in a restaurant isn't just a job: It's a career stepping stone

Employees in restaurants – and the F&B space in general –  don’t want to stay stuck in the same role for the rest of their lives: They want to grow as professionals.

According to the TalentLMS survey, 44.5% of employees view their job as a stepping stone in their career in the F&B industry. What does this mean? That your staff wants to learn new skills and move up, so it's up to you to listen to that desire and provide those opportunities. 

But how does advancement come? Could training be the answer to the food industry’s prayers? According to employees, yes: 62% of survey respondents said lack of training would make them leave their company. When asked to identify an area where they feel their training has been lacking, respondents listed training with the purpose to be promoted (25.5%) as their number one pick. 

Are restaurant staff happy with their current training? 

Offline training is, as you could probably guess, the number one training delivery method in restaurants. 41.5% of survey respondents recall they were trained face-to-face with the help of an instructor, while the number of those who were trained online didn’t exceed 38%.

When it comes to who will lead restaurant staff training, you have a lot of options to choose from: Staff trainers can be a fellow co-worker, an external trainer, a supervisor, or even a restaurant manager.

The vast majority of TalentLMS’ respondents concluded that human interaction during their training is essential and their ideal trainer would be none other than their manager. Employees who were trained by their managers scored a satisfaction rate of 64%.

So, how satisfied are employees are with their overall training? The vast majority of respondents said that training has beefed up their motivation, loyalty to their company, confidence, problem-solving skills, and overall performance. Though 59.5% of survey respondents described their training as satisfactory, the remaining 40.5% who believe otherwise is alarming

So, what's being taught during restaurant staff training? 

An integral part of fostering and maintaining a high quality guest experience involves training your staff in the art of delivering delight. However, TalentLMS found that restaurant staff aren't receiving adequate coaching in this arena. 

When asked about their top priority when training restaurant staff, 38.5% focus on compliance training – food safety, food hygiene, etc – with only 4.5% (the smallest slice of the pie) ranking company culture training as a top priority. 

When the TalentLMS team asked employees in customer-facing roles whether they’d received any restaurant customer service training, a whopping 70% of the respondents said “no.” 

😬😬😬😬😬😬

When asked about a training area they'd like more exposure to, employees ranked “Training in restaurant service” second behind professional growth and development. 

Regular Training vs. Onboarding

Remember what we said earlier about employees feeling that training had a substantial positive impact on their confidence, motivation, problem-solving, loyalty, and on-the-job performance levels? The data backs it up: Restaurant staff who received regular on-the-job training, on average, reported an 11% higher confidence rate in the above mentioned workplace satisfaction criteria as opposed to restaurant staff who had only received training during onboarding. Take a look:


Upon diving into employee loyalty, the team found that 70% of regular trainees had been working at their company for more than a year, and the number of those who’d received training only as part of their orientation was no higher than 46%.

What does “regular” training look like? 

Most believe regular on-the-job training refers to staff training on a weekly or a monthly basis. However, it was those who received training at six-month intervals who scored a satisfaction rate of 82%, with those who received weekly training scoring a 65.5%, monthly training a 66.5%, and annual training a 33%. 

5 Tips To Create an Amazing Restaurant Employee Training Program

Here’s a restaurant employee training checklist – based on the findings from the TalentLMS study –  that will set your staff up for success and reduce employee turnover. 

Tip #1:

Don’t assume your employees want to leave you, your company, and the industry to pursue other opportunities. They want to evolve in the industry, so you need to keep them trained and motivated. 

Create and promote professional growth opportunities for all of your staff members. Whether it's inviting in a subject matter expert (like a mixologist or a licensed dietician) to teach new skills, hosting a restaurant industry networking event, or providing access to a hospitality focused e-learning platform, like Typsy or Toast University, helping your employees learn, expand their skillset, and hone their craft also helps your restaurant in the short and long term. 

This commitment to fostering and maintaining a workplace culture built on support, ambition, and growth will also breed loyalty and help you retain staff. 

Tip #2

Ask your staff what kind of on-the-job training they want. 

Does your restaurant employ a part of the 17% that wanted more customer service based training, or could your staff be a part of the 25.5% who longs for training with the purpose to be promoted? 

Send out a survey via your restaurant employee scheduling platform that asks staff to pinpoint which types of training they'd be interested in pursuing, then incorporate this feedback into your employee training processes. 

It's also a smart idea to add a question about training in your employee exit interviews. Asking employees who are leaving your restaurant to pursue opportunities elsewhere about your on-the-job training offerings is a great way to learn what's good, what's great, and what could use some improving. 

Tip #3:

Maintain a regular on-the-job skills training calendar. Training every 3 to 6 months will help you to both maintain your turnover rates low by increasing loyalty and leave you with employees ready to get their jobs done efficiently.

You can choose to require staff individually partake in training at different points in their tenure (like 60 days on the job, six months on the job, nine months on the job, and so on) or you can have the whole team come together for training you feel would benefit the group as a whole. 

Tip #4:

Don’t over-automate your training. Yes. Investing in software and apps that’ll help you save time and energy sounds like an ideal solution, but, as the study shows, the vast majority of TalentLMS’ respondents want to be trained in person by a manager. 

Invest in a blended learning LMS to leverage the power of automated digital training and human centered training at the same time. 

Tip #5:

Last but not least, monitor staff performance before and after training and consistently ask for feedback about what staff like about your training processes and what you could be doing better. 

Consider training your staff in the art of giving constructive feedback. The Radical Candor approach is a great place to start: Piloted by an early Google's employee, the Radical Candor approach is about challenging your peers/coworkers to do and be better while conveying your care and value for their personal and professional growth. 

Training, Improving, Growing 

Providing your restaurant staff with consistent, on-the-job, skills-based training not only enhances your guest experience, but also shows your employees your commitment to helping them grow as people and professionals.

In turn, they're much more likely to stick around and help your restaurant reach new heights in the coming days, months, and years. 

Looking to enhance your new-hire onboarding experience and training processes? Be sure to download The Employee Retention Playbook below! 

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