How To Keep Your Restaurant Managers Happy and Engaged

Feb 25, 2020


In Q2 of 2019, most restaurants experienced management turnover at a rate of 39%. However, GM compensation at full-service restaurants increased by 1.7%, and in limited-service establishments increased by 2.3%.

The interesting point is that a significant share of restaurants report that they are understaffed at the rate of 52% for non-GM staff, and 19% for General Managers. Further research, provided by Gallup, shows that 49% of General Managers are not engaged. The reason for this is a substantial lack of balance between work life and home life. Managers are more likely to be committed and opt to stay when they have adequate work-life balance. Only 11% of General Managers strongly agree that their job allows them to spend enough quality time with their family and friends.

While the balance of work and life is essential, so is recognition. Recognition goes a long way in building commitment and engagement. Only 32% of all managers polled noted that they received recognition or praise for doing a good job in the last seven days. More interestingly, is that only 27% of General Managers surveyed strongly agree that the mission and purpose of their organization make them feel like their job is important. When employees strongly agree with the company mission and purpose, 92% plan on continuing to work for the company one year from now.

Restaurant owners need to remember that your General Manager is the most valuable asset you have and they are the shepherd of your sheep. They bear all the responsibility for maintenance, food, beverage, labor costs, ongoing training, and hiring. They are the person that the police and fire department calls in the middle of the night and they deal with every possible problem that arises daily.

When we distill these statistics down, what we believe to be true is your General Managers will be happier and more engaged if your company culture, mission and purpose is clearly stated and lived by all. Managers want a predictable schedule with two days off per week so they can have some balance in life, allowing time to see their kids baseball and soccer games. A little praise and recognition for a job well done will go a long way in building commitment and loyalty. Equally important is financial appreciation. We strongly recommend creating a realistic bonus program that is achievable based on key performance metrics the General Manager can control. Finally, most Managers want health care benefits or some form of stipend to offset their health insurance costs. Being mindful of these crucial elements will help you create an environment where your managers can thrive.