Whether it’s recruiting, retention, re-engaging or regulation, foodservice directors have a lot to think about when it comes to labor. Here are a few labor tips from the University of Michigan's dining team in Ann Arbor, Mich.
1. Signage that talks money
When it comes to recruiting, Michigan Dining competes with more than 321 restaurant and retail shops, according to the Ann Arbor Development Authority. Michigan Dining needs to tell its labor story as loud as possible to keep up, says Rahul Shrivastav, director of catering. Right outside the entrances of dining halls and retail units, large signage boasts an $11 hourly wage, compared to the university's overall $8.50 minimum.
2. Clean plates
The university reorganized labor at some of its dining halls. Conserving more limited labor resources, signage in trash areas asks students instead of employees to scrape and separate their own food waste. To Michigan Dining Director Steve Mangan’s surprise, the students actually do it.
3. Competency-based succession plans
Mangan rehabbed Michigan Dining’s job listings to focus on competencies instead of tasks. His succession plan now includes a pathway to management, as well as jobs outside of the dining program. “I want people who want my job and see a pathway to it,” he says. “But also, there’s other opportunities out there, and we’ll help you get there.” He asks staff to be honest about where they want to go with their careers. He says he’d rather have an engaged employee for a short term than have low turnover with an apathatic staff.
4. DIY stations
At dining halls that are on the short list for an update, Michigan Dining is trying to boost traffic without having to boost labor. So it is deploying methods like DIY personal pizzas, which allow students to customize their own pizza and just require an employee to pop it in the oven. The pizzas are one of the dining hall’s most popular menu items.