Employee Morale in 2020...


The challenges of a global pandemic continue to be far reaching. No industry has been unchanged due to the effects of COVID 19. This pandemic has taken a tremendous toll on school nutrition operations throughout the country. In March, many schools pivoted within 48 hours from regular service to emergency feeding. Nutrition staff were recognized by their communities as heroes for their dedication to the community through emergency feeding.

Fast forward 8 months, as many schools have opened to in person school either full time or hybrid, while other students remain home for remote learning. The country has become weary of COVID 19 and everyone longs for a return to normal. Unfortunately, there is no easy fix to return to the norms of the past.

School nutrition programs are struggling with lower participation and the result is a significant loss in revenue. Last month, the USDA extended SFSP/SSO – free meals for all through June 2021. Even with free meals, many schools are finding their funds depleted. This has resulted in furloughs, terminations, decreased hours and hiring freezes. The decreased budgets and increases in the prep time for different modes of service, can leave staff feeling overwhelmed.

During this unsettling and frustrating times, morale amongst school nutrition personnel is waning. Staff can feel unsupported, underappreciated and overworked. At the same time many are thankful to be employed and serving their communities. When morale begins to decrease among your team, it is imperative that steps be taken to improve this. Employee morale is a critical key for success!

Ideas to increase morale among your team:

  • Model and encourage positive behaviors.

  • Encourage creativity from your team. Employees feel valued when they are asked to give input and be part of the solution.

  • Conduct team building activities to solidify to your team that you are stronger by working together.

  • Showcase all their hard work to the community you serve. Many parents do not understand the rules and regulations of Child Nutrition program.

  • Post on school social media all the things your team has been doing.

  • Showcase decorating contests or creative menus.

  • Post pictures from behind the scenes to show everything that goes into meal service whether it is fully remote, hybrid, in the classroom, cafeteria or a combination.

  • Involve the Administration – if there is no money in the budget for staffing, we have seen Administrators around the country helping where they can. Ask them to spend some time in the kitchen or during service to fully understand all that is involved.

  • Work hand in hand with your staff. This may seem obvious, but jumping on the line, washing dishes, taking out the trash, or greeting kids, shows your team you are in this as a team.

Investing in your staff, is another way to show them they are important, and their hard work is appreciated. Here are some ways, MyK12Resource can help you meet your goals:

  • No budget? No problem. We believe that it's our role as the experts to help make training accessible even for operators that have no budget at all. That is why we offer free e-books. Click here for our e-book on automation. There’s also a free training video with Administration Review tips. Just go to the website and sign up! You will be invited to download the video.

  • A budget for Professional Standards Mandate? If you have a budget for professional standards, you are sitting pretty. You can order any of our training services including personal one-on-one Coaching and Mentoring. We have a program specially designed for newbie directors and a program that will empower experienced directors. It’s all about reaching your potential with the help of your My K12 Resource coach. All of our services include a training component, so the cost of services can fall under your professional standards and training budget.


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