As the new school year begins, labor remains a hurdle for K-12 nutrition teams.
So much so that staffing shortages were listed among the top three challenges facing school meal programs, conducted by the School Nutrition Association (SNA) earlier this year.
During the SNA’s Annual National Conference last week in Denver, nutrition staff at Cobb County School District in Marietta, Ga., walked attendees through how they updated their hiring process to attract more employees.
Here are four recruitment ideas to steal from their experience.
1. Research the competition
When revamping their hiring process, the nutrition team did some research on the hiring methods used by other food businesses in the area, including looking up their job applications.
This exercise gave the team insight into the barriers that were present in their recruitment policies and how they could improve.
2. Simplify the application
Using information gleaned from their research, the team identified that the district’s long and complicated application was turning some employees away.
They decided to speed up the hiring process by creating a smaller initial application that prospective employees could fill out in about 10 minutes. After completing the shorter application, potential hires were then invited to a hiring event where someone from the team helped them fill out the district’s longer version.
3. Let potential hires list former bosses on the application
Another change the team made to its application process was allowing employees to list a previous supervisor instead of their most current boss on the district’s longer application. This eased potential hires’ fears about being let them go if their boss found out they were looking for a new job.
“In foodservice, if you were [at] Applebee's, and you tell them, ‘OK, I'm gonna list you as a reference,’ that could be your last day working there,” said Director of Operations Amy Lambert.
4. Give immediate feedback
During the hiring event where they filled out the district’s official application, potential hires also completed an interview with someone on the nutrition team. If the interview went well, prospective employees were told during the event that they had a job offer, pending a background check. This ended up being a major benefit, Lambert said, since the nutrition team had lost employees in the past due to the drawn-out hiring process.
“They’d fill out the application, they’d have the interview, but then they wouldn’t hear from HR for a couple of days, and they’d get another job offer,” she said, adding that “now, they [leave the event] knowing they have the job.”