“Any CEO will tell you that employees make the company, that you’re only as good as your staff. And the biggest problem in the San Francisco restaurant scene right now is finding employees.” Trestle’s Ryan Cole wrote in Eater.

Restaurant employment is changing. Legal issues are increasing employee turnover and wages, which in turn raises the operating costs of the business. These changes also put pressure on small businesses to maintain their standards of service, which becomes difficult when you’re constantly training new staff.

The restaurant employee turnover rate has been steadily rising since 2007. In 2015, it hit 72.1% – the highest we’ve seen since 2009. Although entrepreneurs are still waiting for the numbers to come in for 2016, the trend is already clear.

In his comprehensive analysis of the Golden Age of Restaurants, Kevin Alexander writes that “of the 2.6 million people earning around the minimum wage in 2015, the highest percentage came from service jobs in the food industry… 21 states and 22 cities have raised the minimum wage starting [in 2016], including Washington, DC ($12.50 an hour), Massachusetts ($11), New York ($9.70), and Arkansas ($8.50).”

Wages for many restaurant employees need to be raised, even the thriftiest CEOS agree that happy employees are as much as 12% more productive. However this boost in pay has changed the face of the hospitality industry.

Independent restaurants are going to have to work to remain profitable on notoriously thin margins. Restaurant operators are working to find new ways to increase employee retention and morale while at the same time trying to keep revenue stable.

So how can you keep your employees happy and committed? Here are a few key issues to focus on in order to lower your employee turnover rate in 2017.

  • Financial planning, for employees and businesses. New overtime laws may be on ice, but they won’t stay frozen forever. The NRA counsels restaurant owners to communicate clearly with employees about expectations, so you can plan ahead together.
  • 70% of current restaurant employees believe they have the chance for career advancement in the restaurant industry. 40% of Millennials expect a promotion every one to two years. If you recognize and reward excellent work with career advancement, your employees will be more satisfied and more willing to give the job their very best.
  • One of the top complaints today’s workers have is outdated hardware and technology that creates inefficiencies at work. Restaurant technology gets more productivity out of every employee, and increases efficiency to allow restaurants to get more done with the same staff. Technology also makes it possible for new employees to plug in and be as productive as your best staff without extensive training. Waitlist management eases the burden on hosts, POS systems expedite ordering, payment, and seating. Tableside ordering increases the speed and accuracy of ordering so you can seat more guests in less time.
  • New technology has revolutionized restaurant management, so you can keep an eye on crucial stats, automate inventory and ordering, and track the productivity and success of each employee on every shift. POS systems allow unprecedented free time for operators, which they can then use to recognize key staff and deal with personnel issues.
  • According to a survey from Globoforce, 82% of people would feel good if people noticed and recognized their work anniversary. Recognize important dates for your employees, including birthdays and holidays, to remind them you care about more than just your bottom line.

Technology makes it easier for restaurant operators and their staff to do more with less personnel. Restaurants are a team sport, and there aren’t shortcuts when it comes to building a team of people who care about your success as much as you care about theirs. Recognize your best employees for their work and listen to their concerns. Help them save for their future and they’ll help you achieve yours.