Hospital Foodservice Staffing Shortage:
Boosting Team Resiliency

Hospital Foodservice Staffing Shortage: Boosting Team Resiliency

Hospital foodservice operations are tasked with delivering quality meals to patients, visitors, and staff, yet staffing shortages continue to pose multiple challenges. Ensuring superior customer service despite strained resources can feel like an uphill battle. Not to mention, finding the capacity to provide patients with comfort in a stressful environment can be a difficult task for caregivers. However, simple readjustments can significantly supplement their efforts, allowing them to thrive amid adversity and focus on their true purpose: making a difference in patients’ lives.

Graphic of healthcare workers overcoming a hospital foodservice staffing shortage

Revisit Values

During a hospital foodservice staffing shortage, employees find themselves taking on more responsibilities to fill the labor gap. As a result, operations are susceptible to process breakdowns, and quality may suffer. So, how does an operation get back on track and prioritize the health and well-being of its essential staff members?

Operators can rekindle workers’ passion and fortify their foundation by revisiting the hospital’s vision and mission statement. Doing so will help realign, refocus, and reunite staff toward their common goal. Thereby creating a team mentality to overcome any obstacles (e.g., pandemic, economy, etc.) they face.

Below are a few examples of intrinsic values found within foodservice operations and healthcare as a whole.

Satisfaction lives at the heart of healthcare. Often, caregivers have chosen their profession for a reason. They want to help people, and they want to feel fulfilled in their roles. For food and nutrition services specifically, delivering a meal to patients is more than supplying food. It’s an opportunity to provide care.

Hospital foodservice operators should continue to harness the power of satisfaction, especially during a staffing shortage. They should strive to keep dignity at the center of all they do, for both patients and employees. Supporting staff with effective tools and a positive, comfortable environment will encourage them to stay and do their best work.

Hospital foodservice operations must maximize their limited budgets, especially when faced with staffing shortages. By reducing waste, operators have more funds to spend on larger development projects to expand resources and heighten quality.

Manual processes eat up valuable time and lead to possible mistakes. For example, imagine employees using pen and paper to take physical inventory and then entering it into a spreadsheet. There are multiple chances for errors: confusion due to handwriting, misplacing the materials, inputting the wrong counts, etc. Leveraging mobile devices can streamline workflows, improve data accuracy, and contain costs.

A hospital’s ultimate goal is to aid patients, meaning safety is a top priority. As mentioned, hospital foodservice staffing shortages place additional pressures on caregivers who are already going above and beyond to care for patients.

Operators can equip staff with clear guidelines and technology to assist them with maintaining patient safety. For example, consider software that tracks tray delivery with real-time diet order updates. Integrated systems will help protect patients and offer caregivers more security in their tasks.

Despite staffing shortages, hospital foodservice operations must run efficiently. Performance encompasses everything we have discussed: satisfaction, costs, and safety.

Regardless of management style (i.e., self-operation or contract management), operators should have power over any adjustments. Data ownership can help operators enhance organizational visibility, discover pain points, and develop action plans accordingly.

Health systems face additional challenges because efforts are spread over multiple sites. For optimal efficacy, operators must prioritize standardization. Housing information in a centralized location facilitates tighter control, thereby preserving data integrity.

One Team, One Mission

Healthcare will always be defined by variability. Yet, with a collective mission in mind – to provide patients with exceptional care and employees with an ideal workplace – operators can embrace change and move toward specific solutions together. A few basic questions to ask include:

  • What processes are in place?
  • What solutions may benefit workers?
  • Which tools are top priorities to implement?

After assessing and incorporating necessary changes, operators should continue to check in with staff regularly. With the right mindset and resources, hospitals and health systems can tackle any hurdles. Proactively detecting and addressing problems will benefit everyone, from directors to caregivers to patients.