By Steve Moran

How many of your team members hate their jobs?

You know there are some, right? And, I’ll bet even more than “some” if you’re really honest.

It’s insane that this is happening in senior living, of all places.

But we know it is ☹️.

When this happens . . . and you know this is true . . . it poisons other team members. And here’s the worst part: The RESIDENTS CAN FEEL IT.

I recently spent some time talking with Adam Grafton and Catherine Cape at Morrison Living (a Foresight partner) about what they’re doing to turn this around.

First a hard truth: If you have someone who is a serious hater, you probably need to set them free.

The BIG Idea

But for the most part, people want to do a good job. They want to be appreciated and they want to grow. Morrison has as a core value, the BIG idea: when you help people grow “everyone benefits – our associates, our organization and the residents and clients we serve.”

Key to this is something they call the CATS program (Culinary Advancement Training Series), created in partnership with the world-renowned Culinary Institute of America. The goal is to nurture and cultivate the leadership potential of frontline dining workers and junior chefs.

The big idea is to open up new avenues to advancement and innovation; avenues that they otherwise might never pursue.

Here is what CATS looks like in action:

  •  It is a combination of online learning sessions (video sessions) and direct mentoring by an executive member of the team.
  • All culinarians who have worked for at least 2 years at Morrison Living are eligible (hourly and salaried).
  • In order to be eligible, a culinarian must be nominated to the program by an executive chef or director of dining services.
  • Schedules are adjusted to allow for the student to participate (on the clock).
  • Mentors are required to make a commitment to be actively involved in the program. They must be either executive chefs or regional executive chefs.

    Our message to our CATS mentees throughout the program has been really about taking what’s been learned, applying it to your food, and seeking 1% improvement each day,” Adam explains.
  • The curriculum is comprehensive and includes, among other things, food ordering, purchasing, recipe development, nutrition, and wellness. “CATS is contagious in our kitchens as our mentors and mentees are proud to teach others in our kitchens what’s being taught in CATS,” Adam says.
  • Upon completion, a certificate is issued by Morrison Living culinary leadership along with a personal letter of congratulations. Both are presented in a special ceremony, with key culinary leadership present.

The success of the program has not gone unnoticed. “It’s been amazing to see the increased level of focus around proper cooking techniques and quality in our kitchens from our CATS mentees,” Adam says.

Catherine agrees. “We are helping our associates develop their culinary skills, and as a result, they see more opportunities to grow their careers with Morrison Living,” Catherine says. “The investment Morrison Living makes in the CATS program is one way we show our team members how much we value them and are committed to helping them grow in our organization.”

Best of the Best

What I really like about CATS is that it gives frontline workers who lack the means to go to culinary school a chance to advance their careers, while working. It also addresses the ongoing challenge of retention, providing stronger opportunities for personnel development. That’s refreshing in an industry that often does more lip service to staff development than meaningful training and mentoring.

Do you have a burning passion for food? If you’re looking for a rewarding career, explore open culinary positions at Morrison Living’s career site.

For more information about Morrison Living services and programs, please visit their website.