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Turnover of foodservice employees begins to slow

By Peter Romeo

Despite a historic drop in unemployment, foodservice operators enjoyed a slight slowdown in employee turnover midsummer, with the data signaling the dawn of a trend rather than a pause from years of acceleration, according to new research.

But the good news carries a huge qualifier, warns People Report, a researcher specializing in the field of human resources. The macrotrends that make recruitment and retention a searing endeavor for restaurants continued to gain momentum, leaving the foodservice industry stuck in a tightening vice.

In September, unemployment slipped to a 49-year low of 3.7%, or what economists regard as virtually full employment, noted People Report. A labor pool bemoaned by foodservice operators as being far too shallow clearly continues to sink, the researcher pointed out.

But demand for more employees continues to grow at a significant clip. The net number of jobs in the restaurant industry increased by 2% year over year in August, an acceleration of the 1.7% growth in positions that was clocked by the researcher a month earlier.

Still, the slowdown in employee turnover was good news for an industry that has winced through year after year of acceleration.

“This trend, however, is not expected to reduce turnover rates enough for retention to lose its status as a critical issue haunting operators,” People Report noted.

The researcher found that turnover slowed for both crew-level and managerial employees.

It didn’t divulge the actual turnover figure in the just-released edition of Snapshot, a report on restaurant sales and labor conditions published monthly by parent company TDn2K.

“Reducing historically high turnover rates and staffing for sales growth will likely be at the forefront of successful restaurant operators’ strategy discussions as they plan for next year,” TDn2K noted.

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