Do your food servers know their value is the first step to loving what they do?

Open and honest discussion is essential, and for me, an anticipated part of my training session of Kind Dining®. I don’t use a formatted script for this, and I am often pleasantly surprised by the responses that come. I recall a teenage dishwasher/busboy in one of the classes. He needed a job and happened to find one in the community where I was coaching. When he applied for the job, his focus was about just earning money. However, this changed after he noticed how the residents became personal to him. This began with a few comments exchanged with the residents as he cleared tables. The comments grew into conversations, questions, and answers. It didn’t take long for him to realize that showing up for work and just being there made a big difference to them and to him, too. He looked forward to his workday because of the bond that developed with the residents. Being friendly, he mentioned, enriched their life and his day. It impacted him to make a difference.

He continued to tell us that many of the residents no longer had a family. Since his grandparents passed away, his interaction with these older people was a way of returning what his grandparents had given to him. By being aware of life around him and responding to it, this young man developed a new sense of purpose. The new connection motivated him to want to improve his service. He intended to stay with the company regardless of a minimal wage because of his emotional responsibility and the commitment he made to himself. It wouldn’t surprise me if he eventually made a career in the hospitality and health care he displayed.

After the young man spoke in that Kind Dining® coaching session, other employees also expressed an emotional gift exchanged between residents and staff.  Ideally, this concept needs to be nurtured. Companies that are committed to a healthy workplace culture improve their balance sheet by 20-30 %. It makes a huge difference in reaching a company’s goals when employees find their work meaningful. Research shows employees with a sense of identity, value, and purpose within the community are vital to an organization. Some senior living communities may not be able to offer employees the same perks of top-ranked companies such as health insurance, family leave, and childcare, etc. and cannot pay more than minimum wage at some levels.

However, workplace culture, which top companies rank as the most influential aspect is 80% of daily operations, which can be created and sustained for little money.

Our B♥ Kind® Tip: Do your food servers know their role in helping older people overcome loneliness and isolation?

About Cindy Heilman

Cindy Heilman MS, DTR: Cindy Heilman has over 25 years of experience in enhancing hospitality, and food service standards. She is the CEO of her own company, Higher Standards LLC, and creator of Kind Dining® Training. Her unique background in restaurant ownership, in hospitality and healthcare food service, in working as a Dietetic Technician Registered and Healthcare Specialist at SYSCO Foodservices, led her to the development of her exclusive program that improves relationships and lives of aging residents through the dining experience.

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