The Big Picture: The right staff, baby

Motivating employees is perhaps the major challenge facing operators today, according to The Big Picture. Overall, 47% of operators cited employee morale and motivation as one of their top two challenges. In addition, a great majority of operators surveyed (86%) agreed that younger employees lack the work ethic of older workers.

“We are now a society of texting, people with their heads down,” says Carlos Rivera, foodservice director for Culinart at Cadwalader, Wickersham and Taft, a New York City law firm. “Nobody really looks at each other any more. Everybody’s carrying around [cellphones] like it’s their third arm. Cellphones got so bad a few years ago we had to put rules about usage into our handbook.”

Terry Baker, director of dining services at Oklahoma State University, agrees.

“Professionalism doesn’t seem to be innate in some people,” Baker says. “Sometimes staff don’t show up for work, and they don’t call in—they just don’t show. When we hire them they are seemingly qualified, but you can’t judge them on those ‘soft’ skills you need until you get them on board.”

Joanne Kinsey, director of food services for Chesapeake Public Schools in Virginia, says that she struggles to make staff “feel invested in the end product.”

“We’re having a hard time creating teams in our buildings,” Kinsey says. “They don’t know how to be part of a team and work collaboratively with people. Building that internal dynamic has been very challenging.”

Things may not get better in the years ahead; 77% of respondents said they don’t believe there will be enough trained food management professionals to assume the jobs of people retiring in the next five years.

“The talent pool is definitely getting smaller,” says Joe Stanislaw, corporate director of foodservice for Whittier Health Network in Framingham, Mass. “We try to hire our chefs from retail restaurants. Once they experience the ability to do what they like and have a normal personal life, they very rarely go back. The key is to try to get them in the door.”

Rivera says his best resource for potential new hires is his current staff, and he suggests that offering employees incentives for referring new talent is one way to try to solve the problem.

Even though 65% of operators said they believe a larger number of culinary graduates are seeking employment in non-commercial foodservice, 52% said they don’t believe operators are doing a good job of recruiting that talent.

Damian Monticello, corporate hospitality services manager for Florida Blue in Jacksonville, suggests that the industry as a whole needs to mount a better “grass roots” recruiting effort.

“Our organization (the Society for Hospitality and Foodservice Management) offers culinary scholarships and grants to culinary programs teaching courses centered around non-commercial, and I know other organizations in the industry do similar things,” Monticello says.

“But maybe it’s time for us to pool our resources together as an industry to go after these people.”


Training time

In which two areas do you spend the most time training staff?

  Total B&I C&U Schools Hospitals LTC/Senior Living
Safety & Sanitation 84% 79% 85% 81% 84% 87%
Customer Service 46% 68% 56% 17% 59% 49%
Government Rules & Regulations 28% 5% 1% 71% 19% 23%
Culinary 23% 37% 44% 6% 19% 23%
Interpersonal Skills 13% 5% 11% 12% 17% 13%
Computer/Technology 6% 5% 1% 10% 8% 4%

Training opportunities

Which of the following training opportunities do you provide to your employees?

training opportunities


Training challenges

What are the two most difficult challenges of providing training to your staff?

training challenges


Challenges

challenges


Culinary grads

Compared to five years ago, a larger number of culinary graduates are seeking employment in non-commercial foodservice:

culinary grads


Work Ethic

Younger employees do not have the strong and dedicated work ethic that this group had 10 years ago:

work ethic


Diversity

Having a diverse workforce makes it more difficult to do training:

diversity


Turnover

Turnover is higher now than it was five years ago:

turnover


Recruiting

The non-commercial market is going a good job of recruiting new culinary graduates:

recruiting


Future

There will be more than enough trained foodservice management professionals ready to assume positions of those foodservice management professionals retiring in the next five years:

future

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