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10 Ways to Lose Employees

10 Ways to Lose Employees

10 Ways to Lose Employees

Running a coffee shop is no easy feat, and the last thing you need is a revolving door of employees. While finding dedicated and passionate baristas is a challenge in itself, keeping them on board is a whole other ball game. We'll explore the top 10 ways to lose employees of your coffee shop and, more importantly, how to address these issues to create a thriving workplace. So, let's dive in and discover what not to do in order to build a dream team that will brew success for your coffee shop!

Top 10 Ways to Lose Employees

  1. Don’t have professional boundaries & practice nepotism

In the pursuit of building a close-knit coffee shop, it's crucial to strike a balance between camaraderie and maintaining professional boundaries. Although it might be tempting to treat your staff like family, it's essential to remember that your business is a place of work. Emotions can easily cloud professional relationships, leading to toxic dynamics that demand unwavering loyalty under the guise of family. To foster a healthy work environment, leaders must be cautious about oversharing personal struggles and family matters with their staff.

Being aware of the power dynamic is crucial when cultivating relationships with your employees. Treating everyone fairly and impartially, regardless of personal connections, is a mark of true professionalism. Prevent nepotism by checking yourself for bias and avoiding giving preferential treatment to friends and family. This ensures that all staff members are judged based on their performance and adherence to the set standards, promoting a level playing field for all. Encouraging an open dialogue and respecting differing opinions without retaliation or shunning fosters an inclusive and collaborative work atmosphere.


  1. Don’t give them the resources to do their jobs well

One of the most common frustrations for coffee shop staff is encountering a lack of resources to excel in their roles. Inadequate planning often lead to tasks falling through the cracks, leaving employees feeling undervalued and neglected. Properly equipping your team is essential, as it directly impacts their performance and morale.

To address this, it is imperative to plan in advance and anticipate the tools, time, materials, and training needed to ensure seamless operations. Be proactive and provide for the job's requirements while accounting for potential contingencies. Regularly assess the state of your coffee shop, keeping it efficient and well-stocked. By investing in the functionality and upkeep of your establishment, you empower your employees to thrive and deliver exceptional service, fostering a positive work environment that encourages loyalty and dedication.


  1. Be as unclear as possible

Clear communication is the cornerstone of a well-functioning coffee shop, yet it's often overlooked. Avoid just assuming that your employees will intuitively grasp your expectations without proper guidance. Failing to improve your communication skills and effectiveness can lead to misunderstandings and frustration. To set your team up for success, provide detailed instructions, clearly outlining desired outcomes. Include essential information such as timelines, step-by-step processes, and contingency plans. To ensure comprehension, verify that your staff understands the instructions fully.


  1. Undervalue your staff and never affirm them

Undervaluing your coffee shop staff and neglecting to affirm their contributions can create an environment where employees start seeking the exit. It's crucial to recognize and appreciate the importance of your team, for without them, your business wouldn't thrive. Avoid becoming blind to their presence, treating them as fixtures rather than individuals. Express genuine gratitude and be detailed in your praise, acknowledging their efforts and contributions. When employees feel valued, they are more likely to stay loyal to the coffee shop

Remember, your staff's experience is an asset, and recognizing its value can make all the difference in employee retention and overall success.


  1. Pay them ONLY what you can get away with

Baristas need to feel that their hard work will be financially rewarded. If they constantly take on more responsibilities as the business grows, yet receive no raises or adequate pay, they will be compelled to seek employment elsewhere. Avoid redefining the barista role without appropriately compensating the additional tasks and responsibilities. Being seen as a cheapskate or prioritizing customer satisfaction over staff financial security can lead to a decline in loyalty and morale.

Instead, set clear expectations upfront regarding raise schedules and compensation standards, while explaining the reasons for any limits. Regularly check in with each staff member to gauge their satisfaction and address any concerns. Pay competitively and share the benefits of financial success with your employees, ensuring they feel valued and motivated to contribute to the company's growth.


  1. Be suspicious / assume the worst

Avoid falling into the trap of suspicion and assuming the worst about your coffee shop staff. Implementing cameras, leading questions, and accusatory behavior stems from insecurity and a lack of trust in people's intentions. Treating everyone as potential criminals creates a self-fulfilling prophecy, leading to a negative and distrustful work environment. While there may be instances where some employees act dishonestly, it is essential not to generalize this behavior to everyone.

Instead, choose to give your staff the benefit of the doubt and extend your trust to them. When issues arise, be generous in your approach and offer assistance and support. Lead by example, working alongside your team rather than from a position of authority.


  1. Abandon your staff and leaders

Abandoning your staff and leaders can be detrimental to the success and cohesion of your coffee shop. When managers and owners fail to provide oversight and clear direction, employees are left feeling unsupported and unguided. A lack of present leadership breeds insecurity, inconsistency, and internal conflicts. In a hands-on business like a coffee shop, neglecting to be actively involved can lead to problems and inefficiencies. Staff members need a line of communication to the source, enabling them to understand their performance and receive feedback.


  1. Don’t listen to the staff or give a platform for feedback

Neglecting to listen to your staff or provide a platform for their feedback can drive them away. When employees feel their opinions are deemed worthless, whether never asked or never acknowledged, they lose motivation and loyalty. As an owner, you might face various challenges behind the scenes, from taxes to vendors to operational issues, but expecting your staff to understand these complexities can lead to frustration and resentment. By actively listening to their input, you may discover valuable insights and solutions that can enhance your coffee shop's operations. Your staff, serving on your behalf, possesses valuable knowledge and experience, making them an invaluable resource in understanding the day-to-day realities of the business. Creating a culture of open communication and valuing staff feedback can foster a sense of belonging and mutual respect, motivating your team to work collaboratively toward the coffee shop's success.


  1. Don’t give them a way to advance or learn more

To retain your coffee shop staff, it's essential to offer opportunities for advancement and continuous learning. Employees seek something to look forward to, a sense of progress, and a chance to grow in their expertise. Engage in meaningful dialogue with them, discussing their goals, strengths, and aspirations. Define a clear track of advancement with attainable benchmarks, ensuring your team knows what they need to achieve to progress within the company. Keep your business dynamic and engaging by regularly introducing changing menu items, initiatives, and events, involving your staff in the process instead of limiting decision-making to upper management. Invest in ongoing education and development tailored to individual staff strengths, creating a workplace that fosters growth and empowers your team to give their best in serving your coffee shop's success.


  1. Never admit fault / always blame

A toxic workplace can be fostered by never admitting fault and always placing blame on others. If problems arise, the default response should not be to point fingers at someone else. Acknowledging mistakes and taking responsibility can be challenging, but it is a sign of true leadership and strength. By embracing humility and accountability, you show your team that it's okay to make mistakes and that learning and growth are valued. Leading with humility is far more effective than relying on force or pride in a leadership position, creating a positive and nurturing environment that encourages loyalty and commitment from your coffee shop staff.



In the end the key to retaining employees is to treat them with respect and continually lead them with empathy, clarity, and a mind to equip them to grow and be cared for well within the walls of your business. It is a relationship that needs constant curating and attention. People will leave your shop whether you want them to or not. If you make sure not to let these 10 things become part of how you do business and practice their opposites instead, you will at least know they are not leaving because of a preventable reason and at most you all will have had a wonderful experience serving coffee and one another.


This blog post was created by Chris Deferio with Keys to the Shop! 

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