Work/life practices and the recruitment and retention of large school districts' foodservice professionals

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Harrison, Mary Kate
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Mary B. Gregoire
Robert Bosselman
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Apparel, Events and Hospitality Management

With the forthcoming retirement of school foodservice directors, the increasing pressures faced by employees at home and work, and the financial constraints of school districts, recruiting and retaining skilled and diverse employees will be challenging. Marketing work/life benefits to potential employees and supporting these policies to current employees may enhance school districts' recruitment efforts.

Previous research has shown a turnover culture in the hospitality industry, where employees enter the market and work until they find a better job elsewhere. Other studies have shown organizations that offer work/life benefits can positively influence an employee's commitment to the employer and, thus, their intent to leave.

This study answered three questions of school foodservice professionals in large school districts: (a) Which work/life benefits are important to you? (b) Do these work/life benefits relate to your commitment to your district? and (c) Does the presence of work/life policies influence your intent to leave or decision to stay in the district?

A response rate of 25% (n=126) was received on a questionnaire sent to 500 school foodservice professionals in 50 school districts with over 75,000 students. The findings implied that flextime, wellness programs, and employee assistance programs were important to respondents, even though value did not necessarily mean use. Benefits geared toward individuals raising families were neither used nor perceived as important.

A strong correlation was found between intent to leave and organizational commitment. Respondents between the ages of 20 and 40 had significantly higher intent-to-leave scores than did respondents over the age of 40. Respondents reported pride in their school district and a willingness to go above and beyond their job requirements. Employees did not want to move to other jobs in the district, which suggests that they value their commitment to profession.

There was a weak relationship between management support and work/life balance. The employees' answers corresponded with other research that shows a supportive work environment relates to an employee's attachment to his or her organization above and beyond the availability of work/life benefits.

Fri Jan 01 00:00:00 UTC 2010