The state of C&U foodservice: Staffing strategies

Dining teams are thinking outside of the box to fill open positions as hiring remains a struggle.
Illustration: Shutterstock

As worker shortages roil foodservice, forcing dining room closures, reduced hours of operation and more, operators have been placing further emphasis on recruitment and retention.

Increased communication with staff and potential hires has been one strategy to combat the ongoing situation. At the University of Maryland in College Park, leaders created weekly in-person meetings with small groups of staff. The meetings, which keep workers informed and give them time to ask questions, typically last 5 to 7 minutes.

“These sessions included a one-page handout written at a 6th grade comprehension level in three different languages,” says Senior Associate Director of Dining Services Joe Mullineaux. “We created the sessions in partnership with the Union Shop Steward. [This] increased communication will continue and be expanded.”

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Communication has also been key at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. Senior Dining Director Steve Mangan says his team has been working to change their hiring messages to to boost appeal among prospective employees, promoting the department’s efforts around climate change, diversity, wellness and work-life balance.

Going beyond the job fair

The current shortage has operators trying alternative methods to get in front of potential hires, such as the ideas below.

We’ve hosted hiring BBQs and are offering a $50 hiring bonus. We also offer four hours of extra paid leave for current staff who recruit new staff, with no limit on the number they can recruit.

Joe Mullineaux
Senior Associate Director of Dining Services
University of Maryland
College Park, Md.

We’re offering jobs to students prior to them leaving for summer in spring and are keeping in contact. We also have a referral bonus.

Chin Hong Chua
Resident District Manager
Texas State University
San Marcos, Texas

We’re looking at salary adjustments, plus offering a special meal plan just for students who work for us. 

Jennifer Gilmore
Director of Marketing for NC State Dining
North Carolina State University
Raleigh, N.C.

We have ongoing tablings during summer orientations to capture student staff interest. We’re also working with campus partners to promote dining as an employer of choice and why [students] should work for C&U dining versus off-campus jobs.

Dean Masuccio
Director of Dining and Catering Services
Central Washington University
Ellensburg, Wash.

Back to FSD's full report on the state of C&U foodservice



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