Are your food servers an asset to the community?

Word came to me by way of a friend who has both parents in an assisted living community for the loss of memory. “In particular,” she said, “seeing the same, familiar faces each day is most important to them. Talking with one of the caregivers who said it is especially critical to dementia, Alzheimer’s and lonely, depressed residents who don’t have family or friends visiting.”

Investing in your employees is an investment in your residents and they are the focus of any long-term residential living community. Using that same investment in skill training for all your employees, noting that today, with staff being short-handed in many communities due to the pandemic, is vital. It is common practice to pull employees from other departments who have never served a meal to assist your more skilled food servers on a part-time basis. Surprise! Serving and delivering food is not as easy as one may expect if it is to be done right. Your residents will notice if it isn’t done right, as they expect and deserve. Having your part-time food servers attend training sessions is necessary for acceptable performance, but keep in mind that it pulls them away from their primary duties.

Another way of increasing enthusiasm in your full-time food serving teams is to evaluate the skills they learn and practice in your training sessions. The more they hone their skills, the more valuable they become. The company can find ways to reward them. A small raise in compensation will still save the company the average of $4,000 it costs to find and hire a new food server that needs to fit into your community if you can find one during these pandemic shortages. Think of the $15,000 loss of revenue if you are losing residents due to poor service.

It is beneficial to some communities that the food serving team speaks more than one language. English may be a second or third language to them but once they learn English, their other languages will be an asset. A class in learning English can even be offered as an investment in your employees.

Kind Dining♥ training sessions are designed for all employees who serve meals, whether full time or part-timers, including, nursing and health care, housekeeping departments, care staff, and managers. Your food serving team is a powerful asset for the company when they are giving quality service. To lose residents because they were unhappy with the food and meal service is extremely costly and can be difficult to replace. Remember, mealtimes are the one thing your current and potential residents universally value.

B♥ Kind Tip: An investment in employee training is an investment in the residents, too.

About Cindy Heilman

Cindy is the founder and owner of Kind Dining®, which she began in 2006. She’s traveled across the country and Canada working with and training senior living communities that want to create an exceptional dining experience for their residents and staff. In addition, she certifies select professionals in her Kind Dining® philosophy and provides tools, now in an eLearning format, that make learning stick and help people put insights into action. As a result of her work, clients often share their staff has a new sense of purpose, get along better and keep their focus and energy on what matters most. In fact, she wrote a book, Hospitality for Boomers on how to attract residents and keep good team members. In her free time, she enjoys walking Oregon trails and cheering on her favorite soccer teams, the Portland Thorns and Timbers.

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