4 ways to invest in employees’ mental wellness

wellness woman sunrise

Such community events as women empowerment workshops, self-empathy classes and discussions about eating disorders are a regular occurence at Binghamton University in Binghamton, N.Y. However, dining employees’ work schedules often conflict with the university-sponsored get-togethers. Lori Benson, community liaison for dining services, wanted to make sure her team had a chance to participate in wellness programming, so she started creating activities just for dining employees.

“Part of my role and the goal of these events is to help build relationships and bridge gaps among staff,” Benson says. Here’s how Benson and other operators are investing in the mental health of their workforce. 

1. Health taskforces

business man heart health

To find out what kind of events employees would attend, Benson recruited a staff member from each unit to become a health and wellness ambassador. The Binghamton University Dining Services Wellness team meets to plan events and share which topics are important to employees at each location. The crew helps market the events and communicate staff schedules to maximize attendance.

2. Financial aid

finance chalkboard

Taking care of workers’ bodies, minds and spirits is part of the staff values for the residential and dining enterprises team at Stanford University in Stanford, Calif. The department’s definition of wellness includes not only goals like work-life balance, but things like financial wellness, which several studies have connected to mental health, according to a report published in Clinical Psychology Review. Stanford R&DE teams up with Stanford Federal Credit Union to offer presentations on fiscal health, including personal finance workshops, personal trust seminars and home-buying seminars.

3. On-site classes

yoga gym

Binghamton University Dining Services also taps into campus resources to sponsor free classes for its employees. Several Saturdays each month, the dining team hosts a yoga class taught by a campus instructor, and last spring, university police trained dining staff in self-defense. Additionally, members of the school’s nursing program visit dining halls to give employees blood pressure screenings and information about stress and health.

The department’s first orientation meeting of every school year now includes wellness information for the staff. A vendor fair with representatives from employee assistance, the recreation center and a local hospital attend to answer questions for employees. “It’s really hard to have meetings when we are up and running,” Benson says. “So instead of making our welcome back meeting a policy dump, we’ve found ways to take the time to promote things for them personally.”

4. Addiction services

addiction sign

This fall, Binghamton is becoming a tobacco-free campus. To assist employees through the transition, Benson became a certified tobacco cessation facilitator. She can offer employees guidance and provide resources to help staff kick the habit.

More From FoodService Director

Ideas and Innovation
rolling silverware

Ensuring that employees regularly complete the busywork missing from their daily checklist can be a challenge, but these tasks often help an operation run efficiently with fewer unexpected costs. At Methodist University Hospital in Memphis, Tenn., Regional Executive Chef Dustin Cochran has found a solution to ensure his walk-in coolers always have a clean vent. Cochran starts with a thorough cleaning of the vent, then slips a hairnet over it to catch the dust. Instead of getting employees to deep clean the vents, they need only replace the hairnet.

Ideas and Innovation
chicken and waffles

Our elementary menu is currently riding the breakfast-anytime advertising trend by offering Breakfast for Lunch every Tuesday. It ranks as our highest participation, and it was a great way for us to introduce chicken and waffles inspired by an IHOP dish.

Ideas and Innovation
dress code geeks

Team uniforms are a way we encourage fun. I tell the mangers that every person on your team needs to look like a member of your team, but they can decide together what they want to wear. When the students see a cafeteria person that is matching and having fun with their outfits, they relate to those people better. We don’t want them to look stiff and stuffy.

Menu Development
meatloaf slices plate

“This is the best meatloaf I’ve ever had,” a diner at Alcatel-Lucent telecommunications in Naperville, Ill., once told chef Iraj Fernando. The dish was rooted in a tried-and-true source—the “Betty Crocker Cookbook.”

“I just seasoned the breadcrumbs differently, used fresh parsley and beat the eggs to make them frothier,” says Fernando, executive chef and manager for Southern Foodservice Management.

Consumer interest is up for classic and comforting meat dishes like meatballs (16%), beef pot pie (26%) and meatloaf (12%) for dinner now compared to two years ago, shows...

FSD Resources