/ Employee scheduling

Restaurant staff turnover has nothing to do with pay

Staff turnover is a central concern for any small business, but, as Upserve’s The Pass: The State of the Restaurant Industry Report puts it, “…in the restaurant industry it’s like a revolving door,” citing a second consecutive year of turnover topping 70% in the hospitality industry.

Because staff, both front of house and back of house, are key ingredients in creating a memorable experience for your guests (think hospitality and high food quality), combating turnover is an activity that restaurant owners are constantly engaging in. However, the problem is that many think that it can be solved by simply increasing pay.

While more money can help (and might be just what certain employees want), that’s not the complete picture. If you focus on a pay-only approach to reducing turnover, you’ll be throwing money at a problem that can’t be fixed with cash alone.

Curious about what it takes? We’ve got the answers. Upserve analyzed sales data from thousands of restaurants across the U.S. during 2017 and created a Turnover Forecast for 2018 based on the findings.

Here’s what you need to know to better understand restaurant employee turnover in order to plan your staffing needs for 2018 and beyond.

Q1 is an excellent predictor for the rest of the year

Upserve found that the first couple of months of the year serve as a pretty accurate indicator of turnover rates for the rest of the year. Of course there will always be fluctuations, but overall, paying attention to attrition in Q1 can give you the information you need to make hiring decisions throughout the rest of the year.

Turnover varies by region

Your restaurant’s location actually plays a really big role in the amount of turnover you can expect based on your region. For example,

  • Between January and March, the Southern region has the highest turnover, a rate of 47% on average.
  • The Midwest region follows with a 44% rate, which is near the region’s annual average of 45%.
  • The Northeast and the West have the lowest turnover rates, 43.7% and 41.8% respectively.

Another geographic element to consider is whether or not your restaurant is a tourist destination. Tourist-heavy destinations often see higher rates of turnover (hey, it’s not easy giving directions to out-of-towners all day, every day).

Roles make a difference, too

Take note: Entry-level positions have higher turnover rates than any other. As Upserve’s forecast found, “…when looking at national turnover trends by role, our analysis found that employees who worked as a cashier at a counter churned at a rate of 62% in 2017,” significantly higher than the average rate of 60%.


Cinnamon Janzer is a writer for Upserve. Upserve’s restaurant management system offers a complete suite of solutions purpose-built for restaurants, including Breadcrumb restaurant POS. She hails from the prairie lands of North Dakota, has been told that she thinks too much, and possesses an enthusiasm for enthusiasm. In a previous life, she paid the bills by serving and bartending throughout college and graduate school. She currently splits her time between Minneapolis and Latin America with her dog, Gus, at her side.

Cinnamon Janzer

Cinnamon Janzer

Cinnamon Janzer is a writer for Upserve. Upserve’s restaurant management system offers a complete suite of solutions purpose-built for restaurants, including Breadcrumb restaurant POS.

Read More