As the labor shortage drags on, operators are working hard to hold on to the employees they currently have. In a recent FoodService Director survey, which asked about labor challenges and solutions, respondents revealed a variety of retainment strategies that they have implemented to keep their staffs engaged and happy on the job. Here are four ideas that operators shared.
1. Create a culture of care
Promoting an “all in this together” mentality can help keep staff motivated and make them more likely to stick around. Many operators who responded to the survey say they are trying to promote a caring culture by reminding staff how important their job is and by stepping in to help with meal prep when needed. At Bryant Public Schools in Bryant, Ark., not only do managers and the foodservice director work alongside staff in the kitchen, but the district’s superintendents and deputy superintendent have, too.
2. Keep communication lines open
Keeping staff informed became more more important than ever during the pandemic, and the dining team at the University of Maryland has been tweaking its communication initiatives to make sure that staff and leadership are all on the same page. Recently, leaders worked with the Union Shop Steward to set up weekly 5- to 7-minute, in-person meetings where small groups of staff are kept up to date and can ask questions and give suggestions. At each meeting, workers also receive a handout that’s available in three different languages and written at a sixth-grade comprehension level.
3. Show gratitude
Offering treats or saying thanks can go a long way in making staff feel appreciated. Bronson at Home, a senior-living community in Battle Creek, Mich., started a reward and recognition program where staff can earn points that can be redeemed for gifts. They’ve also been giving meal vouchers to workers who pick up additional shifts. Other survey respondents mentioned bringing in coffee and treats to keep spirits up.
4. Offer career advancement opportunities
Many survey participants said they’re trying to offer more chances for career advancement and training. At the University of Georgia, for example, they’re working on developing career ladders for their team that are tied to monetary incentives, while others mentioned aiming to offer different types of skill development and leadership training.