What Benefits Do Restaurant Employees Value the Most?

The restaurant industry has an incredible turnover rate, nearing almost 80%, on average, over the last decade. In the private sector, that figure comes to about 46%. The cost of this revolving employee door is high, an estimated one-half to two times an employee’s salary, and includes recruitment, training, and productivity loss. It doesn’t include the effect on a restaurant’s culture and the lack of camaraderie that generally comes from a group of people working together as a team over time.

Employees are a restaurant’s greatest asset. Let’s explore what some brands do to retain and encourage those who care for their customers.

The Importance of Employee Retention

Black Box Intelligence recently released its Q2 2024 State of the Restaurant Industry report. They found that full-service restaurants experienced a 101% turnover rate for non-management employees and a 38% turnover rate for managers in Q1. Those rates were 140% and 53% in limited-service operations, respectively. 

They also found a strong correlation between restaurants with higher traffic growth and longer-than-average tenures. Their conclusion: the more successful a restaurant, the more likely they were to retain staff.

Know Why Your Employees Leave

Tackling poor retention rates starts with increasing awareness. When an employee leaves your business, take the time to conduct an exit interview and find out why. Did they find a better-paying job or one that offered benefits? Did they find it difficult to get along with your managerial team? This information is vital to taking the necessary steps that result in long or at least longer-term employees.

The Benefits that Make a Difference

  • Professional Training & Development

According to TouchBistro, less than 40% of restaurants invest in and provide professional opportunities for their employees. Letting your staff know that you’re invested in their future and care about their growth on a personal and professional level goes a long way in securing their loyalty. As J.W. Marriott, Jr. famously stated, “Take care of your employees, and they’ll take care of your customers.”

  • Lifestyle & Childcare Reimbursement Package

One of the biggest challenges for your employees with families is childcare. Irregular hours and evening shifts can make it difficult to find the qualified care their family members require. In response, it’s one of the main reasons many leave. Restaurant employees can also find it challenging to develop a healthy, progressive lifestyle due to their irregular hours and scheduling.

Knead Hospitality + Design owns, operates, and designs restaurants in Washington, D.C. The creator of 10 concepts, they’ve been searching for unique benefits that would convince employees to stay the course. One of these was the Kneed Life + Style benefits package. This benefit reimburses employees for expenses that enhance their lives, such as gym memberships and dining out.

They also recently added a quarterly childcare reimbursement program for salaried employees. This program offers up to $1,800 a quarter for childcare. Depending on the response to this new program, they hope to extend this offering to non-salaried employees and eventually develop a Knead daycare center.

  • Healthcare & Wellness

Health insurance is at the top of the list for many employees seeking additional benefits. Today, about 35% of restaurants offer medical insurance, compared to 69% of businesses on average, according to Mployer.

As restaurants become more aware of the effects of employee burnout and challenging work culture, more support their staff with mental health benefits. These benefits may include virtual therapy sessions as well as meditation and mindfulness classes.

In 2023, First Watch, the leader in daytime dining concepts, expanded its employee wellness benefits by providing annual memberships to Calm, a popular meditation, relaxation, and sleep app. 

  • Flexible Scheduling

The demand for a flexible schedule has been growing ever since the pandemic. Dig, a fast-casual chain focused on locally farm-sourced food brought a four-day workweek to hourly staff in 2022. 

It takes time for your staff to get to know your business and the guests that support it. Doing what you can to ensure they stick around for the long haul will be well-appreciated by your customers, who enjoy knowledgeable staff and a familiar face.


What benefits do employees value most?

Some of the most important benefits to employees include those centered around health and wellness. They also appreciate flexible work schedules and paid time off. Many also seek advancement or learning opportunities, including educational benefits and professional development.

What are some benefits of working in a restaurant?

Some benefits of working in a restaurant include being part of a team and bonding with co-workers. Employers that incorporate team-building activities, such as planned sports and other outings, help enhance this aspect of the industry. 

Additionally, many restaurants are increasing their benefits package with health and wellness care as well as lifestyle and professional development.

  • Subscribe to our latest insights


Are you capital raise ready?