Staff turnover in cafes

Employee retention

written by Rafael Hoekstra and Les Kuan 

It is no secret that staff turn over in cafes is faster than perhaps in any other industry. Sometimes it can feel like staff leave faster than trees in the Fall. Jokes aside, this can be seriously detrimental to the smooth running of a cafe, so let’s consider why this happens and what can be done to minimize it.

The Facts about Staff turnover

Staff turnover in the restaurant industry can be as high as 100 % with 73 % being typical. Retraining staff incurs both financial and time costs. Each new staff member must be trained to work within the cafe - and even with prior experience, every cafe is different. Furthermore, the time required to retrain them can slow down the smooth operation of the business and will generally require the time of other staff members.

Besides these measurable costs, there are also other effects which, though more subtle, can have a profound effect. Every cafe has its dynamic within the team - changes in the staff, especially frequent changes - will of course affect all others. Beyond the team itself, frequent customers also contribute to the social dynamic, building up relationships with staff members. Understandably, they will notice changes in the team, and their familiar cafe may begin to feel less familiar. Saying “I’ll have the usual” may be met with a blank look.

What causes the turnover?

Some factors are under the cafe’s control and some are not. Seasonality is a significant factor that is out of the control of employers. When hiring students, it is understandable that they may quit after the Summer months. Although students may demand no more than minimum wage, it is therefore unreasonable to expect any more than a minimum level of commitment. By hiring people who treat baristaship professionally, paying them as such and offering them professional development opportunities, retention rates can be increased. The company culture is under control of the cafe. A winning strategy therefore, is to grow your employees as you grow your business. Forbes has reported that companies that are “winning the war for talent” are investing in their frontline, entry-level employees. As Jessica Lau has pointed out that the key to retaining talent is training, development and growth. “If you place restrictions on a person’s ability to grow, they’ll leave you for someone who won’t.” Taking the long term view and investing in staff can increase both employee satisfaction and retention. Now that’s got to be good for business!

How can the Canadian Barista Academy help?

We offer courses to up the game of both baristas, managers and coffee roasters. By training your employees with us, you not only increase their level of professional skill, you can also strengthen their relationship with your cafe and brand.

Our barista and business courses include:

  • Barista (Levels 1-3)
  • Coffee Tasting
  • Bean to Cup
  • Complete Barista Training Bundle
  • Opening a Coffee Business
  • Introduction to Coffee Roasting Course
  • Coffee Business and Barista Training Bundle

We offer these courses at all of our campuses: Vancouver , Calgary and Toronto.


Back to blog
1 of 3