Employee inclusion and engagement remain essential components of any foodservice team, especially in this stressful year. Here are four ways healthcare operators are working to make their employees feel welcome and appreciated, which were shared during the Association for Healthcare Foodservice’s virtual conference last month.
1. Showing value through the menu
At Harris Health System in Houston, hospital officials created a diversity and inclusion calendar that observes 21 nationalities. The foodservice team decided to take an extra step and use the calendar to highlight different cuisines from those cultural backgrounds. “Every month, we actually have a menu based on those nationalities and those cultural differences to show employee value,” says business manager Peka Owens.
2. Providing an outlet
Earlier this summer, Aatul Jain, executive chef at Saint Peter’s University Hospital and Healthcare System in New Brunswick, N.J., decided to have small, closed-door conversations with his employees to provide an outlet for them. “I think what worked for us more so was just to vent, just having conversations,” he says. “You’ve got act at the micro level, at the unit level. I totally believe that if we take care of our people, they will take care of our business. That is my personal business strategy.”
3. Taking a personal approach
At Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, Director of Food and Nutrition Veronica McLymont also acts at the micro level by taking time each day to interact with staff. She says that checking in with them can go a long way toward fostering understanding and appreciation. “Ask them how they're doing. Ask them how their families are doing, how their kids are doing, showing that empathy where necessary,” she says. “Also giving them positive feedback. Saying, ‘Thank you for a job well done. Thank you for coming in.’”
4. Showing compassion
Showing employees compassion and offering additional resources when they’re going through tough times is another step managers and other higher-ups should be taking, Owens says. When a beloved employee who had been working at one of their hospitals for over two decades passed away earlier this year, Owens and her team took extra steps to help workers process and heal. “We actually brought in our EAP reps and daily let them console [employees] and reach out to their families. We did personal phone calls, even off the clock,” she says. “We had our managers calling and checking. We just showed them how much we really truly cared about them even in the midst of everything that all of us are facing.”