No matter the industry, you can probably relate to the strain on recruitment and retention. The Creative Dining team doesn’t pretend to have the magic potion for finding top talent and keeping them, but we can point to data that shows we’re beating the industry average (by a lot!) when it comes to retention, and we have a pretty good idea of why that is.
These lanes of retaining aren’t unique to hospitality and could apply in some shape and form to other industries. In a nutshell, it comes down to mentorship, career pathways, and a lifelong learning mindset.
Meet Jay, Our Chef-Mentoring Guru
Jay Sharkey is the Culinary Training Coordinator at Creative Dining Services. With over 40 years of experience in the industry, Jay worked at Creative Dining at the account-level for over 20 years before deciding to dig deep into culinary mentoring.
“I’ve been through the whole culinary structure from cook to banquet chef, sous chef, executive sous chef, even up to executive chef,” Jay said. “After all those years, I’ve spent the last several years at Creative Dining leaning into my passion for mentoring other chefs.”
In his current role, he’s responsible for instituting Creative Dining’s culinary training initiatives that help grow chefs at all experience levels. As a member of our Culinary Innovation Council, Jay drives subcommittees to continue pushing our company initiatives to be the best in the industry. This includes the widespread implementation of our latest employee-facing education innovation, a series of online culinary courses.
The Best Job Benefit is an Impactful Career
This desire to grow our chefs led to us developing our online culinary courses in 2017. We took a look at how we could meaningfully develop our team while giving them the necessary tools to build their careers. Jay worked collaboratively to develop our course system, accessible through Creative Dining’s unique online portal.
Our culinarians progress through each course offered through the program, depending on their skill level. The courses cover everything from cooking basics, like sharpening knives and food plating, all the way to reducing food waste, sustainably sourcing seafood, and the art of bread and pastries. Creative Dining culinarians can grow and practice their skills continuously and are constantly learning.
Possibility Feeds Recruitment & Retention
We see our culinary courses as a catalyst for entry-level culinarians to live into their potential as professional chefs. We fan our chefs’ passion for culinary by giving them the tools and training to sharpen their skills.
Continued Education for Recruitment
Many companies choose to increase starting wages, but over the last several years trends continue showing that competitive wages aren’t enough to attract employees and keep them around. In conjunction with competitive compensation, offering a career path, continued learning, and overall job security is a great incentive that goes beyond the monetary.
Building career growth into job offers can make all the difference in someone joining your company, and that’s something Creative Dining drives at the account level. Our accounts have the autonomy to support and drive chef career growth from the hiring process onward, and it’s worked well as a value-added incentive for people that come work with us.
Continued Education for Retention
While it’s always good to look toward new horizons, it’s also important to stay aware of what assets you already have. Some who start on the culinary path don’t necessarily intend to make it their career, but with the right tools they may find their passion in creatively working with food.
With your teams – whether it’s in academia, corporate, or senior living – providing a career roadmap inspires loyalty, retention, and job satisfaction. Our courses help reframe this idea in a tangible way, shifting from “a job” to a fulfilling culinary career.
A Benefit For All Culinarians
From entry-level line cooks to experienced chefs, we’ve seen a wide range of our culinarians benefit from the Creative Dining Services culinary school programming. One of our chefs, Angela Matusiak, has over 20 years of culinary experience. In 2021, she completed five of our seven available courses over about seven months. It’s an impressive feat and greatly helped her continue honing her skills.
“Even after 20 years of cooking professionally, I still found great value and fun in learning new skills. The course does a great job of covering the basics, but also explaining the reasoning and benefits behind many skills that we take for granted,” Angela said. “Both novice and experienced culinarians will walk away from this program with a stronger foundation and the opportunity to build camaraderie with others in the program. 10/10, would recommend!”
Angela is the lead chef specializing in Korean cuisine for one of our West Michigan corporate accounts. She’s one of the people responsible for leading culinary innovation at the account. Even the account director has seen the impact of these courses on her capabilities.
“What Angela has learned during the [online culinary] program has helped us immensely,” said Sarah Edward, the Food Service Director of the account. “She has taken our Korean program and made it authentic and brought so much joy to the people here.”
Ways to Grow Within the Company
Over the last several years, we have intentionally evolved our team member development offerings at Creative Dining. Making growth opportunities available to all levels can greatly contribute to boosting both recruitment and retention. If your employees feel supported, secure, and encouraged to grow, they’re more likely to stick with you as they build their career.