Clock in. Clock out. Repeat. If this is how your employees see their jobs, then it might be time for a change. Employee engagement is a hot topic in the healthcare and hospitality industries, but how much does it really matter when it comes to resident happiness and your overall success?
Well, according to this recent article, food service employee engagement in healthcare has no significant impact on patient satisfaction. Better wages, schedules that coincide with bus routes, and overall workplace culture have bigger impacts.
Yes, we were shocked too, but these results don’t mean that senior living and behavioral healthcare communities should put employee engagement on the back burner. We still believe that engaged food service employees are important to your overall business.
A Deloitte survey found that when it comes to restaurants, friendly employees are the most important factor for a positive customer experience. By making your dining room a place that employees enjoy working in every day, you can create a better overall experience for your residents, a better work environment for your team, and reduce turnover.
Start from the Top
So how do you improve employee engagement? It starts with your leadership team. When your team trusts your leaders and believes that they’re steering the ship in the right direction, employees will feel more connected to your business and its mission. They’ll want to contribute to the good work that you’re doing. According to Levy Recognition, a company that specializes in employee engagement and recognition, about seven out of 10 restaurant employees who weren’t confident in the abilities of senior leadership weren’t fully engaged.
When implementing new initiatives in your dining program, it’s crucial that management participates and follows whatever new rules are in place so other employees will follow.
Think Outside Food
A few years ago, Harvard University Dining Services decided it was time to do something about improving employee engagement. Their goals were to reduce turnover and improve teamwork. One of the ways they did this was by seeking experts outside of the food service industry to help their employees build up soft skills. They called on experts from an improv theater and from The Academy of Physical and Social Development to teach creative, teambuilding exercises.
We love this idea because it gets employees out of the dining room, gets them moving, and gets them communicating in ways they usually don’t get to during the workday. Start by Googling “creative teambuilding activities” in your city. Maybe your search will lead you to an improv coach, an obstacle course, or an Amazing Race-style scavenger hunt across your town. Whatever you choose, regularly doing exercises like this can improve team morale and engagement.
Work-Life Balance is Key
In a recent survey, 50% of Millennials and 44% of Gen Z respondents said that flexibility is “very important” when choosing to work for an organization. We aren’t saying that you need to offer your team two months vacation time, but giving them the time they need off work to recharge is necessary.
While the flexibility to “work from home” isn’t conducive to your food service team (they can’t serve residents from their own couches), flexibility in hours may be beneficial. Talk to your employees and figure out how your scheduling can help them have time for their commitments and personal lives. You don’t have to give in to every request, but your employees may be more likely to trust you and enjoy work if they know the flexibility is there when they need it.
When an employee does something good, let them know. It sounds simple, but many companies just don’t do it. In a Gallup analysis, only one in three U.S. workers strongly agreed that they received recognition or praise for good work in the past seven days, and employees who don’t feel adequately recognized were twice as likely to say they’ll quit in the next year.
A personal thank you note or call out from a manager or executive can go very far when an employee goes above and beyond. For more public recognition, you could write a quick blurb about the employee’s accomplishments in your internal newsletter or highlight an employee of the week on your business’s Linkedin page.
Employee feedback is essential to improving the workplace. Talk to your employees regularly about how their feeling about their role and your community overall. And yes, we mean actually talk to them. Online surveys can be a quick, easy way to gather feedback, but face-to-face interactions allow you to build trust, get to know your employees better, and ask important, specific follow-up questions about their feedback.
If you’re worried about employees not opening up one-on-one, have a group discussion. As one or two employees start to speak up, others may feel comfortable doing so as well.
How Will You Continue to Engage Employees?
When you make the effort to improve employee engagement, you’ll start to see changes in morale, productivity, and turnover. If you need some assistance with employee engagement initiatives, Culinary Services Group can help. For example, we offer thorough one-on-one chef and manager training sessions with our team when you have a new hire.
To further improve our employee engagement efforts, we launched a new online training platform in 2019. All of our employees have access to this platform. Alongside this platform, we also launched an app for employees. On the app, people can share photos of food with each other, recognize achievements, and talk directly to our corporate office.
If you’d like to learn more about this online training program or about other ways we can help your healthcare community improve employee engagement, contact us here.