[Study] Top 10 Most-Engaged States in America

[Study] Top 10 Most-Engaged States in America
Jordan Boesch

By Jordan Boesch

At 7shifts, it's a goal of ours to improve employee retention for restaurants, and for me, it’s more than just something we evangelize to restaurant clients—it’s something we live and breathe internally at our company. At 7shifts, we're constantly evaluating how we can test for core value alignment to ensure we get the right people in the door and retain them in the best way possible.


By providing tools to restaurants like our Engage dashboard, which quantifies overall staff engagement, managers can be proactive in understanding when an employee is engaged and when they're likely to turnover - correcting it before it's too late.

Following the advice from TDn2k, "Look for successful brands to continue investing in their people as the ultimate differentiator in the marketplace," we recently used the data in our system to determine the top 10 most-engaged states in the United States with regard to their restaurant workforce.

(Stay tuned below for my three critical tips to improve employee engagement).

The Top 10 Most-Engaged States in America

This list is ranked based on the average engagement score for locations in the state. The 7shifts employee engagement score is based on an employee’s activity, both in-app and historically at their restaurant, such as their punctuality, how often they pick-up or drop shifts, and how long they've been working at the restaurant. This action-based score gives a more reliable indication of how engaged the employee is at work than a self-reported happiness score could.

3 Critical Tips to Engage Your Restaurant Staff

1. Hire the right people to build the right culture

Building an engaged team starts with hiring the right people that fit the culture you want to build in your restaurant. But this can run into a chicken & egg situation—which came first, the people or the culture?

The culture should fall in line with your company’s core values and mission — so guide your hiring process by first building out these key details about your company.

“There’s no right way to train the wrong person.” — Dany Meyer, Union Square Hospitality

You can’t make up for the wrong hire with training—even if someone has the right qualifications, if they aren’t a fit, then they aren’t a fit. Relying on just paper qualification for your team hire leaves you with little-to-no culture, and employees can relate to and engage with a nonexistent culture.

Takeaway: Establish your core values and mission early on and hire people who embody those values.

2. Learn about your team’s interests and incorporate them into the workplace

Your work as an employer isn’t over once you’re staffed up—the next piece is critical, and it’s to engage that workforce so you can grow your business efficiently. Getting to know your workforce is the first step.

Get in the habit of chatting with your team and building a more personal connection with them. What drives them in their career? What do they like to do outside of work?

With a base understanding of your employees personalities and interests, you can start figuring out ways to incorporate those interests into the work.

If your server loves photography, there could be an opportunity to take pictures for the menu, or highlight the business on social media. If your dishwasher plays in a band in his spare time, maybe hire them to come in for live music one night, or even encourage them to play their music in the kitchen for other staff.

Takeaway: Get to know your employees and their core interests and find ways to bring them out in the restaurant.

3. Encourage team collaboration — for more than just work duties

Getting your team to collaborate builds a sense of community — and I’m not just talking about having a server help in the dish pit on a busy night. Bringing an air of transparency to the workplace and getting your team involved in more corporate decisions is a great way to make them feel valued and grow engagement in a meaningful way.

If you’re changing up the cocktail menu, make it an event for the team and invite staff to help come up with new cocktail names, taste test, and vote on the best contenders to make it on the menu.

There’s a lot of creative stuff that you can do that just encourage more team collaboration and ultimately make it a really fun atmosphere that people enjoy being a part of.

Takeaway: Look at every business change as an opportunity to promote transparency and encourage team engagement. Make decisions collaborative, and get feedback from your staff wherever possible!


Thousands of restaurants are opening all the time. What are you doing as a restaurateur to differentiate yourself as an employer and preventing your teams from going to work at another restaurant across the street?

Get your team more engaged with a labor management tool like 7shifts. Start your free trial today.

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Jordan Boesch
Jordan Boesch

Jordan is the CEO @ 7shifts. Jordan grew up working in his dad’s restaurant and fell in love with the industry–the rest is history.