Workforce

The state of healthcare foodservice: Navigating staffing shortages

More than half of survey respondents say that being short-staffed is the top challenge they anticipate in their operations this year.
illustration by Nico Heins

Healthcare operators are still struggling with labor. Eighty-four percent of respondents to FSD’s 2022 healthcare survey say that they are short staffed, and 56% said that staffing shortages are the top challenge they anticipate facing in the next year.

To help teams stretched thin, a majority of survey respondents (86%) say they have turned to cross-training employees, while other survey respondents (20%) have been forced to cut some services. At Memorial Hospital of Converse County in Douglas, Wyo., for example, the foodservice team no longer offers its sandwich bar station or does catering orders and deliveries.

Financial incentives are also being used to encourage staff to pick up extra shifts.

When no dining employees are eager to work overtime, some dining teams, like the one at Hannibal Regional Hospital in Hannibal, Mo., are turning to other departments to pick up extra employees.

“[We’re] working with care staff, other department managers, and housekeepers to keep our staffing adequate,” says Director of Clinical Nutrition Services Nancy Hays.

Recruitment and retainment

To fill out their teams, healthcare operators are continuing to think of new ways to find potential hires.

At St. Rose Hospital in Hayward, Calif., Director of Food and Nutrition Molly Kitamura reached out to the career centers at local community colleges and has directly emailing the deans of local culinary programs. Along with posting on job boards, Dugan Wetzel, director of culinary and executive chef at Eskenazi Health in Indianapolis, has turned to TikTok and Facebook to advertise open positions.

To keep current employees happy on the job, a majority of survey respondents (75%) also say they’ve increased pay, while other operators are implementing unique job perks. Employees at Brethren Village in Lititz, Pa., get access to facilities such as the gym, salt water swimming pool and wellness programs.

Steven Szilvagyi, executive chef at Cedarbrook Senior Living in Plymouth, Mich., says that the nutrition team has offered bonuses, training, a competitive wage and more to attract and hold onto employees.

Making staff feel important is key, we offer a monthly employee appreciation luncheon with gifts, gift cards, and recognition awards for performance,” he says. We work hard each day to retain our employees, working with them to best understand their needs and keeping them happy. Take care of your employees and they take care of the residents.”

Return to the full 2022 State of Healthcare Foodservice report.

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