Improving staff retention rates - for free.

Updated: Nov 28, 2021


The average staff turnover rate in Australia in 2019 was 8.5%. The highest contributor was hospitality, with a 17.9% turnover!

What if we told you you could reduce staff turnover for almost no extra cost?

Most business owners in these industries deliver ineffective onboarding processes. Many SME owners think of onboarding as merely a checkbox on an OH&S List or a quick 5-minute job to do before getting someone to work.


Within a business, onboarding is the introductory process used to help a client or employee get integrated into a working relationship, understand how the business works, and frame their interaction with the business going forward. A positive onboard experience can improve the chances of someone staying by as much as 60-80%.

Within the retail and hospitality industry, employee onboarding directly affects the customer's experience as well as the employee's perception. This is a unique characteristic that seldom exists in other industries. Onboarding in the retail and hospitality industry has to include the creation of a positive customer experience, especially in today's digital age where consumers heavily research every purchase that they make.

When employing someone, there is a chance that you could be onboarding someone who had never had a job before or never had a customer-facing role or a seasoned veteran who has been in the industry for 50 years. When working with someone in their first few days, take careful note to ensure that you have carefully communicated your expectations in which manner they should present themselves and in which way to best communicate with your customers. Just remember, you are the boss, and it is likely that you want to impress the boss in the first few days to set a good impression. For this reason, it is common someone will tell you that they understand when they may not. A great tool to check to understand and reduce nervous tension is to play a role-playing game. Start with a simple exercise, and after a few rounds (always provide feedback), move to a more problematic customer. Have the employee play customer and take turns swapping. Learning by doing is a very effective tool.


Here are some practical tips to consider for improving the onboarding process and reducing the turnover:

#1 Onboarding starts earlier than you think!


If you interview someone over the phone or have someone come for a trial - this is the point where an employee begins forming opinions about both you and the business they are interested in donating their time to. Set good impressions! If someone comes in for a trial, ensure that they are met warmly. Ensure that simple and CLEAR instructions are provided. Ensure they know where the bathrooms are, where to evacuate in the event of a fire, if they will have a break and what time the shift will end and what to do at the end of the shift. Ask the employee what they are expecting to do on trial and take the opportunity to set expectations. Insert a joke or two here and there to help ease tension.

#2 Get your s#$t together

Do not wait until the first day to handle the paperwork regarding the enrolment. This should be emailed through ahead of time, and any issues dealt with. Ensure that your expectations are clear and indicate some examples of ways that someone can excel at their job, and do not assume that they will already know how to do the job because they have worked somewhere similar. Explain what to do with mobile phones and what is and isn't allowed. The last place may have had different hygiene standards or may have served a different style of food. Ensure that there is sufficient work to do - nobody likes to loiter.

#3 Develop a roadmap

Develop a pictorial roadmap of the organisation. Show the employee where they presently are. Show them where they can get to and the paths they must take to get there. A kitchen hand to head chef may be a long journey at some places. By showing them this journey, you may ignite a spark that changes their life and provides purpose in ways you may not have realised.