Mary Schumacher oversees foodservice operations at Bethany Senior Living in Waupaca, Wis., a senior living community that boasts a rich 120-year history. What started as a small welfare program for orphans in 1895 has evolved to meet the needs of seniors based on the contemporary continuum-of-care model. Bethany Senior Living recently made upgrades to its dining program, adding outdoor eating accommodations and upgrading the menus it serves. These upgrades, which FSD spotlighted in an earlier Anatomy of a Renovation series, helped Bethany garner additional acclaim not only with residents but boost its appeal among local community members, who have come to view Bethany as a destination stop for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
But like most other FSDs, Schumacher and her facility are grappling with a changing workforce. FSD recently reached out to find out how the job market is affecting operations. Click through to see what we learned.
Photographs courtesy of Bethany Senior Living
1. How they hire
FSD: In looking at the job market, what is your general short- and long-term outlook in terms of staffing?
Mary Schumacher: We continue to hire and are always hiring. We also promote within our company.
FSD: What is the single biggest challenge to staffing at your operation?
MS: We have 17 staff positions that we schedule for daily, which is a lot of positions. Filling all is the biggest challenge.
FSD: What hiring channels/platforms do you tap to find the best candidates?
MS: We use Indeed, Facebook, local newspaper, job fairs and we also put flyers at our high schools.
2. Staying service-minded
FSD: You have a retail operation in addition to resident feeding. How do you fill both types of positions?
MS: We had to train our staff to be servers instead of dietary aids. In the Bleu Barn, the staff is not only trained as servers but as short-order cooks as well.
FSD: What do you do if you’re shorthanded?
MS: If we have staffing shortages, all management is to work the floor to cover each position.
FSD: What is your impression of artificial intelligence, and how do you think it will affect staffing in the future?
MS: We don’t agree with artificial intelligence because we believe customer service and one-on-one interaction with residents is very important.
3. Making assessments
FSD: How are you engaging staff to incentivize them and, ultimately, retain their services?
MS: We offer benefits, no late evenings, every other weekend, flexible hours, dressing up for sports games, casual Fridays, employee appreciation treats, just to name a few incentives.
FSD: If employees do opt to leave on their own, do you hold an exit interview?
MS: Yes, we send them an exit interview in the mail and try to improve [our own operational efficiencies]. We take pride in a job well done.
FSD: What has been your greatest staffing success story over the past few years?
MS: We hired a shy, inexperienced high school student and mentored her into a management role. She has now graduated high school and accepted a full-time position with us with the intent to make this a long-term career.