Do your food servers and staff know how much they are appreciated?

Do your food servers and staff know how much they are appreciated?

Thank you

Appreciation Day in Assisted Living and Long Term Care communities is a way of saying thank you for the personal attention your food servers and all employees extend to the residents they serve. It is a way of saying that we, the company, care about you, too. This past, long year of the pandemic has brought all those who serve the residents, to the attention of grateful families and the companies who manage the communities. Commitment, work standards, proper serving techniques, personal bonding with residents, and even coming to work daily are accomplishments to be noticed and rewarded.

Another way of showing appreciation is an Employee of the Month program to honor those who go a step further to reassure a resident when delivering meals, asking a coworker if help is needed. Making small talk to extend friendliness to a resident is comforting. A server’s attitude affects everyone within her range of motion whether serving a meal, passing a coworker in the hallway, or helping to restock the pantry. Leadership qualities seem to be born in some people but others can learn how to become leaders through Kind Dining♥ coaching (available online, too) sessions that bring out skills some employees didn’t even know they had. Hanging the picture of the Employee of the Month, giving a Certificate of Distinction, and a gift basket full of delights are items to consider. The employee recipient then joins the committee for selecting the next Employee of the Month who in turn replaces her/his spot on the committee.

To show appreciation, the company may also give points for perfect attendance and reward with a gift card. These ideas are not setting up a contest but recognition of an employee’s awareness followed by thoughtfulness. It is a way of celebrating personal achievements and milestones of efforts to improve one’s performance. Other factors to include, but not limited to, are attitude, emotional intelligence, quality of work standards, attendance, and length of service, communication with residents and coworkers, and leadership abilities. Aside from hanging the Employee’s picture in a prominent place for residents to see, a picture and some personal information can be sent in the monthly newsletter, included in the social media posts, and blog posts. A card on the employee’s anniversary of the first workday with a small gift card tells your employee the company is happy he/she is part of their community. The amount may increase at various milestones, along with personal conversations over lunch with a manager and a couple of co-workers of the employee’s choosing.

Kind Dining♥ is nearby to guide you with continuing education, the key factor in keeping knowledgeable, food servers and staff that make your community a wonderful place to live and work. People are rarely born with and not often trained in the most vital skills that make a positive difference in others’ lives.

B♥ Kind ®Tip: Has someone helped you out today? Thank them.

Do your food servers and staff know how much they are appreciated?

Are your food servers your goodwill ambassadors?

more than food serversMeal and snack times are still the most important hours of the day for Senior Living communities. That fact makes it most important to have the cream of food servers. They are the window of customer service on the job multiple times per day. The food servers are the community’s ambassadors working on your behalf. You want them to have the finest hospitality etiquette, the neatest appearance, the smile that lights up a room when they enter, and a food serving team that loves the work they do. Why you ask? Older adults in your community respond to these traits that include kindness. When residents are happy, they stay content where they are and they invite former neighbors and friends to come to join them. A happy resident means a space staying filled, not needing to spend extra monies attracting new residents to that space. New residents are attracted to an improved culture of hospitality and healthcare. They recognize the loyalty of a staff that has been long term.

Employees described above are not a dream, but a goal for your community to reach for and attain. There is a way you can have employees carrying those qualities in your community. Training. Kind Dining♥ training offers Virtual training sessions that you can continue to use with new employees and part-time food servers, too.  Training will teach food servers the skills they are lacking and better ways to do the work they have been doing. They can open doors to culture change and understanding those who have different customs and backgrounds.  A happier staff is a healthier staff. The happy staff creates commitment. The committed staff stays in the community and recruits other high-quality employees. When employees stay, the high cost of employee turnover and searching for new replacements can be used elsewhere in the community.

Highly successful communities have already started to improve their determined retention of employees trained in healthcare and hospitality for the improved person-centered culture. The opportunity for growth is here. Training classes for good citizenship and productive staff is an excellent investment.  Commitment to good training is fundamental in meeting the commands of culture re-organization. Customer satisfaction is imperative. The wisest company holds onto its residents by supplying the individual service they expect. Food servers are still the company’s best representatives. Investing in them is an investment in stability and continuance.

B♥ Kind ®Tip: A food serving team has the power to make a big difference in residents’ happiness!

Do your food servers and staff know how much they are appreciated?

Is your food serving team aware of other ways to serve your residents?

Is your food serving team aware of other ways to serve your residents?

A table of six artists gathered together at their local cafe after having their COVID 19 vaccinations. They had stayed virtually in touch for more than a year and now rejoiced at finally seeing each other in person. At first, everyone spoke at once wanting to relieve themselves of all the pent-up information they wanted to share. When the over-excitement settled, one artist thanked everyone for welcoming her friend to this table of long-time friends.

“Look at us,” she said. “We are like Rockwell’s Freedom from Want painting of the Thanksgiving table but besides being multi-generational, we are also multi-cultural and so diverse! Plus,  you welcomed a stranger. It reminds me why I chose you all as friends, besides your being top artists, of course.”

Everyone laughed at the comment about being good artists. Another artist spoke up and said, “Well, why wouldn’t we? It’s who we are and have been since we all met in art class so many years ago.”

“All my classmates in college did not respond in the same way. I painfully remember my first time in the cafeteria when I was discouraged from sitting at some tables. I was new, young, different-looking, and hated eating alone. I still don’t choose to eat alone. I like company and conversation with good food. Actually, any food.”

Everyone laughed again but remembered those early days of becoming adults and how rejection felt.

Many dining rooms in older adult communities are reopening. Some residents will face the problem of being rejected from a dining table if they are recently new to the community. Enter your well-trained food serving team. It’s a situation they can help a resident avoid if the food server is alert and aware that these incidents still happen. Those college-age kids are now retiring adults. Some have never changed. Kind Dining♥ coaches how food servers can guide a recent resident to tables they know will welcome a new resident with pleasure. This is one of the many skills that can improve a food serving team’s performance.  With awareness and practice, your food servers can accept more responsibilities and become more confident of their place in the work they do. Adding responsibility adds self-esteem which increases leadership competence. In turn, this will open the door to bonding food servers to work as a team. A team working toward the same goal gains strength as they become aware of their own importance to the company who has invested good training for their betterment.

Do your food servers and staff know how much they are appreciated?

Do your part time food servers understand the impact they have on older residents?

Kind Dining

Sandra and Chloe met early before the Book Club meeting to share some herbal tea and catch up on the latest news. Sandra recently retired from being a senior living administrator.

“Remember Lucy who used to babysit for my daughter? She’s wrapping up her first year in college, majoring in English. She came for some needed advice.”

“Really? Not to your daughter?”

“She spent last summer and her college-break times working mostly as a food server at the Assisted Living community in town. Once her college went on Virtual classes, she added extra time working there. She came to love the ‘grandparents’ as she calls them, and the personal connection with them in her work. She wants to change her major and go to work full-time in healthcare as a career. She’s drawn to the foodservice end of the business and wondered if I had any inside information to give her from my years in service.”

“Good for her,”  Chloe said. “So many kids don’t know what they want in the first year of college.”

It’s happened before and will again. Once some young adults work in a field that really draws them in, they realize that it is better to spend working hours doing what you love instead of focusing on the how-much-money-can–I-make aspect. Well-trained part-timers will return to the job at each opportunity and may desire to become full-time employees. Capturing this passion to hone a person’s skills creates a cycle of self-improvement and job enjoyment.

Kind Dining♥ training helps people enjoy their work by understanding their importance in the daily lives of residents they serve. They also become emerging leaders assuming more responsibility. They tend a diverse group of older people who are no longer strangers to their next-door neighbor or the people they see in the activity rooms. Well-trained food servers in the community know how to create relationships with those residents and guide them to build friendships with each other.  Enhancing the quality of daily life by improving the dining experience is ultimately the bottom line for the business end of the administration.

B♥ Kind ®Tip:  Remember your vision to build stronger mealtime relationships. 

Do your food servers and staff know how much they are appreciated?

Are your secrets to success hidden in your food servers?

Kind Dining

Many changes have taken place over the last year due to the pandemic. Even without the major chaos, we have lived through, it’s forward-thinking for the company to invest in bringing everyone in staff up to date with the changes and additions to the foodservice culture. Consider it a makeover to refresh serving techniques and a brush up on social skills for newcomers and long-time servers who have worked together on your team. I conducted graduate research in a community for older adults, revealing resident’s service priorities. While serving at mealtimes (or anytime really), courtesy and a positive attitude were at the top of their list. Good social skills are not inborn. If they are not taught at a young age, adults can learn them through training and practice sessions. Social skills are vitally important in any connection with the public.

Proper serving techniques have gained attention because of the number of Baby Boomers entering senior living communities. That generation of retiring adults is more sophisticated than their parent’s generation and will not accept less than they are comfortable within their present lives. The shift in attentiveness is toward person-centered hospitality and care. It is good to begin with greeting the person you are serving with a cheerful smile and offering your name. Also, learning the names of the people you serve forms a stronger connection. Anyone serving a meal may as well do it right with joy, empathy, and friendliness. Residents are not part-time and prefer to know who is bringing their meals. Allow a positive attitude to come to work with you every day, and it will serve you well.

A virtual Kind Dining♥ coaching class is ideal for adapting new skills and refreshing aptitudes in anyone serving meals. I am convinced that confident staff serving meals who strive to continually improve their service make for happier residents. These are the hidden secrets leading the way to your success! Remember, our highest goal is to have residents enjoying every meal and bonding with the people who are serving them. Honing the skills of servers increases their confidence, capability, and empathy, which creates a bond between servers as well.

B♥ Kind ®Tip: Meet residents’ expectations.