Job Well Done

By Becky Schilling, Editor

Directors find different ways to recognize their employees, from a “thank you” to award programs to massages.

FoodService Director, Employee Recognition, massagePeople like to be recognized for their work. According to a 2007 poll by Maritz, Inc., a sales and marketing services company, “55% of employees ‘agree’ or ‘strongly agree’ that the quality of their company’s recognition efforts impacts their job performance. At the same time, only 43% of employees ‘agree’ or ‘strongly agree’ that they are consistently recognized for their performances in ways that are meaningful to them.” With that in mind, it’s important for directors to not only recognize their employees but also to use different methods to say thanks.

According to the Maritz survey, there are six different profiles for employee recognition preferences: award seekers, who want gift cards and travel awards; nesters, who want days off and flexible scheduling; bottom liners, who respond well to cash bonuses; freedom yearners, who want flexible hours and the ability to choose challenging projects; praise cravers, who respond well to verbal, written or formal praise; and upward movers, who are most satisfied with meals with company management or opportunities to work with people outside of their own areas.

Although the percentages for each profile are different within each company, the survey found that award seekers were the highest percentage, with 22%, followed by nesters (20%), bottom liners (19%), freedom yearners (17%), praise cravers (16%) and upward movers (8%).

FSD talked with operators to find out how they recognize their employees and found out that most operators offer rewards that fit the desires of two of the profiles—award seekers and praise cravers. Here’s a snapshot of what non-commercial operators are doing to recognize their employees.

Lovelace Westside Hospital: At this 95-bed hospital in Albuquerque, N.M., Michael Nuttall, nutrition services manager, uses techniques that praise cravers would appreciate. “We have a comment card program that gives  guests the opportunity to let our staff know how they make a difference,” Nuttall says. “The cards are then printed in our company newsletter.”

He also makes an effort to let his employees know any positive guest feedback. In addition, Nuttall increases staff bonding through department outings to a local bowling alley or zoo.

FoodService Director, Employee Recognition, All Hands on DeckUniversity of Missouri Healthcare, Rehabilitation Center: Debbie Padilla, assistant manager of nutrition services at this 124-bed hospital in Mt. Vernon, Mo., says the department’s employee of the month program has been a nice way to recognize the 30 staff members.

Padilla says employees are honored with an employee of the month pin and their picture is in the monthly dietary newsletter. “It is also an honor because the nominations are listed on a voting sheet for the facility-wide employee of the month program with the  thank you comments made by the employees who made the nominations.”

In 2007, the nutrition services department was named the hospital’s department of the year. “The old myth was that dietary or support services was at the bottom of the ladder,” she says. “Our department proved that wrong. It was a very proud award for me after 23 years of service here.”

University of Pittsburgh at Bradford: At the 800-student university, dining services at this Metz & Associates account decided the best way to increase employee satisfaction was to get all hands on deck. 

“After the employee survey last year we felt people needed something to show that they were appreciated,” says Robin Cauvel, administrative assistant to the general manager. “So Jaime Sweet, the Common’s café supervisor, and myself got together and came up with a program. When the employees do something above and beyond their normal duties to help other employees, they earn a card from a deck of cards.” Once all 44 employees have received a card, Cauvel draws a card from a different deck, and the employee with the same card wins a prize. Cauvel says employees receive cards for just about any helpful activity. “It can be something as simple as one of the dish crew coming in and taking out my garbage for me, to our pizza guy making a special pizza after a student request or someone from the grill helping someone from the signature line get prep or clean-up done,” she says.

One of the other aspects of the recognition program has been employee bonding. Cauvel has a scorecard posted in the kitchen so that people can see where the group stands. “People see who hasn’t gotten a card yet and they encourage them to get their card,” Cauvel says. 

“We just felt that morale around here wasn’t very good,” Cauvel says. “I think that this has made people get to know each other better. I think that the camaraderie here is a lot better than it ever has been. This made people see each other as people, instead of just employees.”

FoodService Director, Employee Recognition, Sodexo Gift CardsLegacy Retirement Communities: Robert Darrah, foodservice director, at this CCRC in Lincoln, Neb., uses a program called Way to Go to recognize his employees. “Each month, employees are nominated by residents and coworkers for outstanding performance, going above the call of duty, etc.,” Darrah says. “Each person receives a nice certificate listing his accomplishment. At the end of the month all the names are submitted and one is drawn as the monthly winner for a $50 gift certificate. The person is also announced at dinner as the monthly winner.”

Pocono Medical Center: At this 244-bed hospital in East Stroudsburg, Pa., Heidi Franssen, foodservice director at this Metz & Associates account, thought something other than a food-based recognition would be appreciated by her workers.

“We had been trying to hit a certain mark for patient satisfaction scores,” Franssen says. “When we hit that, we wanted to do something, but rather than doing food or a cake or something  from our department, we [arranged for] massages. There is a local massage school that comes to the hospital and does time for hours.”
So Franssen asked if the school could provide massages for just the foodservice department. Four massage chairs were set up in Franssen’s office. Employees could come in throughout the afternoon. “We turned off the overhead light and turned on some lamps,” she says. “We had music playing. Some people were concerned because they had never had a massage, but they loved it. It was a great boost. It was something different from a fruit tray.”

Franssen says the massages were perfect for a group of employees whose jobs can often cause physical stress. “This is a very busy place and everybody is nonstop, so we wanted to give people a way to relax from all the moving, hauling, doing dishes and everything else that they do on a daily basis.”

Dixieland Elementary: Cindy Wickham is the school nutrition manager at this school in the Polk County Public Schools in Florida. Wickham says she recognizes her employees with a personal touch.

“I try to bring the ladies special little gifts the day after a hard day, such as candles, flowers, chocolate or dishrags that I crotchet myself,” Wickham says. “I will write a note and leave it on the time sheet sometimes. When a teacher tells me how delicious a meal is, I tell them that I didn’t cook it and I tell them who made what, and they go to that lady and tell her how delicious the food is.”

Sodexo: This foodservice management company launched an employee recognition program called Esteem Pass through Sodexo USA, the company’s employee recognition department. Esteem Pass is a pre-paid gift card that can be redeemed at 35 retailers at 20,000 locations in the U.S. The gift card can be customized with an operation’s logo or photo. Personal messages can also be printed on the cards. Elizabeth Jorgensen, head of sales, says, “I think employees want to have something that is personal, that is memorable and provides them the opportunity to choose.”
Vincent Hillenmeyer, president of Sodexo Pass USA, says, “As a very large employer, we are very dependent on the motivation of our teams and we need these tools like Esteem Pass to reinforce this.” Sodexo has 120,000 employees in the United States, Mexico and Canada.