minimum wage

Minimum wage is hard to live off of for the average person unless they are able to rack up enough hours in the week (Note:  This excludes tipped employees).  Probably close to around 60 or more.  But one restaurant is not normally going to give an employee that many hours because of the overtime costs.  So the average restaurant employee that is trying to work off of minimum wage is often forced to work at several restaurants at a time.  There are some big problems with this for restaurants.  One, an employee can form bad habits at another restaurant and transfer those over.  Two, employee’s burn out quickly in this scenario and customer service suffers.  Finally, an employee can share one restaurants secrets of success with another, which can be costly especially if they work for a competitor.

There are however some possible solutions.  First and foremost any restaurant that wants a quality employee should be willing to compensate them beyond minimum wage.  But how much more?  It is probably a costly mistake to get in to wage wars with competitor because all you’ll end up hiring is a bunch of guns for hire that will leave for the first wage increase somewhere else.  It might help if, instead of thinking of the nuances behind the proper hourly wage, we thought about an employee’s entire compensation.

A smart restaurant owner should know how to sell their business not only to their customers, but to their employees.  What makes you better than your competitors?  Do you offer health benefits and if so how soon after an employee starts can they receive them?  What other unique benefits do you offer?  Paid vacation?  Childcare reimbursement?  The key thing to remember is that whatever it is that you are offering as compensation for your employees you must do a good job of communicating to prospective new hires.

Finally, there are two last elements that I think are critical to not only attracting the best employees but retaining them as well.  They are maintaining a strong and positive culture, and investing in your people.  In my experience, working for an employer that cares and is offering a quality product and or service is often times just as important to an employee as the money they make.  Additionally, restaurants that look to develop their employees in to managers or help support their employees education have found that they have lower turnover.  Lower turnover means a restaurant spends less money hiring and training employees.  So the money they save from low turnover can pay for the reinvestment in their employees and that is a beautiful thing.

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