Operators differ about future management talent

B&I and colleges say we’re fine; schools and healthcare show concern.

Even with unemployment running high, foodservice operators aren’t sure if career hunters will want to follow in their footsteps. The key determinant, they say, is how well the industry spotlights the opportunities available today to prospective candidates.

Overall, directors are almost evenly split on the chances of drawing enough talent to replace the veterans who’ll retire from senior-level management posts in the next five years. Forty-nine percent of The Big Picture respondents say enough successors will be found, while 51% indicate they doubt it.

But confidence in averting a leadership gap varied widely from segment to segment.
Respondents from B&I are the most optimistic, with 84% saying they foresee no shortage of management professionals, followed by peers in colleges, with 59% predicting an adequate talent pool.

In sharp contrast, 61% of survey participants from schools indicate they expect a shortage of possible successors, and the outlook was only slightly better among the operators of healthcare facilities, with 54% expressing a pessimistic view.

Operators say awareness and familiarity with the opportunities afforded by each segment are responsible for the difference in opinion by segment. Dawn Houser, nutrition manager for Collier County (Fla.) Public Schools, says she wouldn’t trade her career for anything, but acknowledges that she stumbled upon it despite extensive education in hospitality management.

“In my four years at Penn State, not once did they mention school feeding as a career option,” she explains. “The culinary and hospitality schools don’t focus on this aspect of the business.”

Conversely, she says, “If you look at employee feeding, it closely mirrors what you see in the private retail sector,” a.k.a. restaurants, foodservice’s most visible and familiar job option.

Take that awareness and add the advantages of a nearly conventional workday and you have the reason why B&I operations “never have a shortage of applicants,” says Cavin Sullivan, general manager with Metz Culinary Management at JM Smucker Co., in Orrville, Ohio.

“We’ve all done the restaurants, the grind of the retail side,” he says. “I have a huge advantage being a Monday through Friday, 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. operation.

“I wish I’d known about the contract side a long time ago.” 

Fast Facts

51% of operators believe that there will not be enough trained management professionals within the next five years to take over for retirees.

More From FoodService Director

Menu Development
quinoa bowl

In a time of growing health consciousness, it might not be enough anymore for food to be merely filling. According to Technomic’s 2016 Healthy Eating Consumer Trend Report , diners are looking for food with a function, such as those with high protein content, immunity-boosting properties, antioxidants, probiotics and more. The data suggests 63% of consumers see these foods as healthier than those without any specific nutritional function—and would be more likely to buy them.

But are those stated preferences translating on an operational level? There, the answer is less clear. Baby...

Ideas and Innovation
phone bed call sick

We make people call and directly talk to their boss or supervisor if they are reporting an absence for a shift. While it is more cumbersome, it is a conscious decision. We have adapted and implemented electronic methods to obtain efficiencies in just about every other functional area, except for electronic absence reporting systems. The direct supervisor can put more pressure on an employee to show up—especially those with some form of the “Super Bowl plague”—than any electronic system can.

Menu Development
ranch dressing chicken fingers

While salad bars are often the first place K-12 operators look to incorporate more fresh produce, few go as far as making their own salad dressings. But last fall, in a continuing effort to transition from prepackaged meals to an all-scratch menu, Mark Augustine, executive chef of culinary and nutrition services for Minneapolis Public Schools, switched to concocting four varieties in-house—ranch, Caesar, Italian and Asian vinaigrette. The move, designed to eliminate artificial ingredients and lower fat and sodium, presented the biggest challenge when it came to ranch dressing, the school-...

Ideas and Innovation
business card

We get the new folks abridged business cards saying, “Hi, my name is so-and-so and I work in nutrition department.” We thought it would give them more ownership of the program and elevate their status and position in the organization. It also gives our team more self-confidence and self-worth as an employee, which can be a challenge with foodservice workers.

FSD Resources