Announcing our new report: What Restaurant Employees Want

Announcing our new report: What Restaurant Employees Want
D. J. Costantino

By D. J. Costantino

We’ve got some exciting news to share. Our annual restaurant industry report is here, and it’s all about employees. Aptly named “What Restaurant Employees Want,” this report is built from the insights of more than 1,500 active restaurant employees and uncovers what truly matters to them in their work environment.

Every year, we see the same challenges crop up for restaurant operators: hiring and retaining top talent. It’s a tough gig, and great restaurants need great teams. We wanted to arm you with the insights and data you need to create an exceptional experience for your team. By understanding what employees value most, we hope you can make better-informed decisions that lead to a more satisfied and engaged team that sticks around longer.

And it’s not just data: we have first-hand insights from real restaurateurs and consultants, including a foreword from Shake Shack founder Danny Meyer.

Our CEO, Jordan Boesch, sums it up perfectly: “This report answers a lot of the questions that restaurant owners and managers have about why their workforce might be dissatisfied and why they may be experiencing unhealthy rates of turnover. But it doesn’t just focus on problems. Instead, it uncovers what restaurant employees need and want today and specific action steps that management can take to improve their team member experience.

So, what did we discover? Here are a few highlights that stood out:

1. Flexible hours and balance are critical.

Flexibility is a consistent draw of working in the restaurant industry. Specifically, 62% of employees said flexible hours are crucial for job satisfaction. Employees want the ability to balance their work with school, family, and their personal lives. It isn’t just a perk; it’s a necessity that helps them maintain their overall well-being and job satisfaction.

2. Camaraderie is just as important as cash.

While financial incentives are important, our report found that camaraderie and a positive workplace culture hold just as much weight, if not slightly more. 58% of respondents mentioned that their coworkers and camaraderie make them more engaged at work. Employees thrive in environments where they feel connected to their peers and valued by their managers.

3. Managers matter more than you think.

When employees quit, they move on from managers—not restaurants. Our data shows that 45% of employees have left a job because of poor management or negative interactions with their supervisors. This highlights the critical role that good leadership plays in employee retention. Effective, empathetic management can make all the difference in keeping your team intact. As Kwini Reed, owner of Poppy + Seed, puts it, “The best leaders are ready to dive into the thick of it with everyone else.”

Text on right says 'What Restaurant Employees Want: 2024 Report' and image on right shows photo of someone holding an iPad with a page from the report

Beyond these key points, our report also revealed other insights:

  • Recognition and Feedback: Regular recognition and constructive feedback are crucial. 68% of employees said they are likelier to stay with a company if they receive regular feedback and feel recognized for their hard work.
  • 9-to-5 Benefits: There’s a growing desire among restaurant employees for the benefits typically associated with traditional 9-to-5 jobs like health care, retirement savings, paid time off, and more.
  • Condensed Training: Quick, efficient training programs are preferred. 55% of respondents said they favor shorter training periods (1-2 weeks) so they can start their jobs quicker.
  • Career Growth: Many in the hospitality industry are not just passing through; they seek long-term career opportunities with clear paths for growth and advancement. 60% of employees indicated they would stay longer at a job if there were clear opportunities for career advancement. And 25% of employees aged 24-35 see themselves as lifers.

Read the full report.

We encourage you to review the 30-plus-page report and see what insights you can apply to your business. Improving your restaurant’s culture is not just about solving problems; it’s about creating a deliberate, uplifting environment where your employees are excited to come to work.

You can access the free full report here.

Text on a light purple background that says Get the full report


D. J.

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D. J. Costantino
D. J. Costantino

Hi! I'm D.J., 7shifts' resident Content Writer. I come from a family of chefs and have a background in food journalism. I'm always looking for ways to help make the restaurant industry better!