Is this the dirty little secret that’s affecting your restaurant’s turnover? Is your manager, the person you trust to run your business, causing you to lose valuable employees due to inappropriate relationships, favoritism, and decreased morale?
Do your managers explain away your restaurants turnover rate this way? Employees that left:
- Wanted too much money
- Were lazy and didn’t want to do the work
- Weren’t team players/didn’t fit in with the culture
Recently, I spent a productive afternoon interviewing a number of servers and hostesses. The issue of manager/employee affairs was a hot topic. Almost all of the people I interviewed had stories to tell…
“The worst manager I've ever worked for was condescending and rude. Unfortunately, he was also the general manager. I can positively say that he was the reason for the collapse of the restaurant. He was also one of the managers that began flirting with the young hostesses and receptionists...and would fool around with them in the empty booths in between the lunch and dinner service. He was a pig, to say the least.” - Erin
“I also had a lot of managers who slept their way through the staff. These managers were more worried about their libido than the operation of the restaurant.” - Jason
We went on to talk about how these affairs affected morale. One server spoke about what the repercussions were to the restaurant when affairs started and how it affected the rest of the staff.
“When inappropriate relationships began to form between a few staff members and management, this caused a ton of gossiping. By this point, staff morale was taking a nosedive and the entire restaurant really suffered. There was a lot of talk about looking elsewhere for work.” - Liz
“I was a hostess in a restaurant where sexual relations between management and staff happened all the time! It caused nothing but trouble – it was like working in a soap opera. Relationships ended and employees would leave. Morale was so low…” - Barb
Of course, the managers would favor the employees who were involved with them. This not only damaged morale, but many employees would leave because the favoritism was unbearable.
“I remember when a couple of hostesses who were fooling around with management, were promoted to servers. Two other hostesses, who refused the manager’s advances, quit when the promotion was announced.” - Kate
“The best manager I ever had was not the nicest guy, but he was consistent. The problem I had with most restaurant managers I ever worked for was that they had different rules for different people. So many managers rewarded their girlfriends when they really didn’t deserve it.” - Jason
“In response to the getting hit on by a manager question....sadly, yes. Unfortunately for them, I never reciprocated, but there was always someone not far behind me who was willing to oblige. And in return they got the good sections, immunity from doing rollups (i.e. napkin cutlery bundles...aka the most torturous duty on earth), and always seemed to be first cut (which means they didn't have to stick around at the end of the night to serve the last customers, or help clean up.) Good servers would quit because the favoritism would get so bad.” - Erin
Sexual affairs between managers and employees are more common than you think, but not spoken about in the industry. Rather than leaving employment at a restaurant for the reasons managers give, the most common reason for leaving a job was the favoritism, animosity and damaged morale that resulted from the inappropriate relationships managers had with employees.
“Affairs can really negatively affect day to day operations. If nothing else they create almost "sibling" style rivalries between staff. Normally it's a male manager and a female employee (although I have seen it the other way my fair share of times) and the other girls if not jealous don't feel like they are getting enough attention/good shifts/good sections/good tables/etc.
Normally instead of working they will stand around and bitch about the manager/employee relationship and how they are getting preferential treatment when it comes to section/shifts/customers. Don't forget as a server, you make more money by getting the premium shifts/sections/customers. So it also affects turnover because if servers don't feel they getting those things, they will normally look for something else. If there is no relationship between manager and employee the only measure of performance is merit.” - Jason
Our interviews gave us some ideas on how to address this problem. To see what servers said about what to do about retention, click HERE.