CBORD Insights: Connecting with Staff Satisfaction

CBORD Insights: Connecting with Staff Satisfaction: The Role That Foodservice Plays 

During the pandemic, hospitals struggled to find enough employees. Now, the pandemic has abated, but staffing shortages haven’t—which makes employee satisfaction critical. But delivering the right employee experience is not easy. In a recent CBORD Insights survey, 46% of respondents said they were only somewhat or not at all satisfied with the progress they’ve made attracting and retaining staff.  

Fortunately, experience and data show that connected technology can help by turning hospital foodservice operations into a powerful tool for keeping employees satisfied

Connected technology integrates siloed operations and data so that the various components of foodservice can work together—and with other parts of the hospital—to support a better employee experience. For example, burnout is a common cause of healthcare employee defections. Connected technology can streamline work, prevent duplicative work, and automate complicated or mundane tasks to allow employees to focus on more satisfying aspects of their jobs. And by taking on various tasks, automation can help relieve the stress and sense of overload that often crops up when foodservice is short-staffed. Automated checkout lines working alongside staffed lanes, for instance, can result in human cashiers having more manageable workloads—and a better work experience.  

Connected technology can also make it easier to offer employees more choices of high-quality, healthy menu items whenever they want. The technology can coordinate the ordering, production, and delivery of food in a complex hospital environment. Links with vendors can help foodservice respond quickly with the right substitutes if there is a supply shortage, and the analysis of data from the operation can help operators better understand demand and preferences—all of which works to ensure that the meals employees want are available when they want them.  

Order Ahead, Pick Up Later 

Meanwhile, employees can order these meals using their computers, tablets, or smartphone apps. They can view the menu and order ahead, then pick up their meals from a cafeteria service counter or food locker pickup point—without waiting in line for orders to be filled. Or, they can even have meals delivered to them where they are working, via the patient food tray system. “Hospital workers often have full schedules, so they appreciate things like this that save them time, especially when it’s the limited time they have for breaks,” says Sarah Myers, director of product management at CBORD.  

“At the same time, mobile ordering also makes life easier for the staff on the floor because they don’t have to go through the cumbersome process of taking meal orders manually from patients. Another stress-reducer is knowing patient nutritional requirements and restrictions are being tracked and managed by the system, so risk is low.”   

Like patients, staff members are looking for smooth, frictionless experiences—and connected systems can leverage employees’ ID badges to simplify interactions throughout the day—in foodservice and beyond. For example, badges can be used as a payment method across the hospital—not only in the dining facilities, but in gift shops, convenience stores, pharmacies, vending machines, and even with on-site vendors such as Starbucks. Payments can be made automatically through payroll deductions or declining-balance accounts. In essence, the ID badge becomes a single, highly convenient form of payment for employee purchases throughout the hospital. “Just expanding the function of the badge to include these payments can have a real impact on employee satisfaction,” says Myers. 

The Data Difference 

As employees use their badges to make purchases, they generate data that can help hospitals better manage inventory in foodservice and retail locations. That data can also be used to create reward programs that offer incentives such as discounts or account deposits—and provide business benefits. For example, rewards for using mobile ordering can have the added benefit of reducing the size of cafeteria lines. Rewards for purchasing at venues that offer healthier food options can have the benefit of supporting employee wellness. 

Many hospital executives and decision-makers understand the potential of these approaches in the effort to recruit and retain employees. In the CBORD Insights research, they cited “staff satisfaction” as one of the key expected benefits of connected systems. Sixty percent said that it’s very important to allow employees to pay for meals with their ID badges, and 66% said the same about being able to offer reward programs based on dining choices.  

Overall, says Myers, “Some of these things sound simple, but you need the connected technology to make them work. And employees notice them; these things make people feel valued and appreciated. And they add up to increased satisfaction.”  

*CBORD Insights™ Patient Experience survey, March 2023. N=180 C-suite/VP-level administrators in Acute Care, Government and Private Hospital Systems and N=100 patient respondents. 

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