As if foodservice directors didn’t have enough on their plate, a tighter labor market means they often have to take a more active role in finding and keeping top talent, according to Lynne Brown, foodservice system operations director for Geisinger Health in Wilkes-Barre, Pa. “You can look for potential everywhere,” Brown said at a recent Association for Healthcare Foodservice webinar. “Every encounter in a restaurant or retail store is an opportunity to see a staff member in action.” Check out how Brown is taking recruiting and retention into her own hands.
Bring back calling cards
When recruiting during everyday trips to the store, it’s important to come equipped. Brown’s team has created calling cards with step-by-step instructions on how to apply for open positions. “Include a name and phone number of someone they can connect with immediately to answer questions and provide assistance when applying for a position,” she says. “If your starting rate is above average, highlight that.”
Offer juicy referral bonuses
Brown doesn't mess around when it comes to incentivizing staff to bring in new hires. The director offers $500 bonuses to employees whose referral is hired. If the staff member is still on the team a year later in good standing, the referrer gets another $500.
Keep staff in the loop
Communication is key to helping staff feel included and connected in the department and the organization, Brown says. She spends one-on-one time with workers to find out what their personal career goals are and how the department can help achieve them. She also recommends transparency about organizational news and updates. Brown helps facilitate conversations with “Ask Foodservice Leadership Anything” sessions, where the whole team can talk with supervisors about their questions and concerns. Geisinger’s low-tech whiteboards also promote regular communication in a timely way. “Staff want to know the 'why' in what we are doing or the changes that are being made,” she says. “People have that need to understand.”