We hear time after time that the biggest challenge for business owners, especially in the restaurant and retail industries, is retaining and attracting new talent. In today’s gig-economy, people are staying in job roles for shorter periods of time and some are even starting their own businesses. But this means restaurants and small businesses need to prioritize employee retention like they’ve never had to previously.

Restaurant workers come from different age groups and diverse educational backgrounds with varying life experiences, and each person’s needs will be different. Many times, businesses are afraid to ask even the most basic questions: what do you like and dislike about the workplace, what are some ways we can make this place a better environment for you?

BusinessBlocks coach and human resource expert, Melonie Boone, says one of the most effective ways to keep your restaurant’s culture strong is to value your employees. It sounds pretty obvious, but it’s easier said than done.

Valuing your employees starts from the top down. That means it begins and ends with the managers practicing what they preach.

The manager needs to shift the tone and dialogue from “Let me tell you what we need from you,” to “What do you want from us?”

The answer is never – “if we pay more, they’ll stay.”

It takes a lot of work to evolve the mindset of most managers. Too often managers are  set in their ways and less willing to entertain change that won’t benefit him or her directly – or even both.

“If your employees don’t feel valued, they will find an environment where they think they can find that worth,” says Boone.

For example, let’s say your company pays 100 percent of health benefits, but the employee is expected to endure a challenging environment, working under a manager who doesn’t care to have a good working relationship nor give more opportunity for growth. He or she will (most likely) leave the company because no amount of money or benefits will make them feel fulfilled or successful.

There is no catch-all, fix-all solution. Try to look at everything from the perspective of the employee. Give the most and best you can to them, so in turn, you get a better return from them. Remember: the relationship with your employee needs to be mutually beneficial. Creating an enjoyable work environment and treating your employees with respect are just a few modest steps in the right direction.

In some cases, your employee might still leave even if you’re doing everything right. At that point, you trust your good impression has made a positive impact and hope that it leads to a strong referral, bringing in new talented folks.