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WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT


Will They Stay or Will They Go? A


s annual employee turnover averag- es an eye-popping 65 percent across U.S. senior living operators, the in-


dustry faces an inflection point. Improving employee retention can positively benefit financial performance and quality care. With the latest technologies and access


to big data, we can identify and execute solutions to employee retention. Great Place to Work’s senior care division completed an employee retention study that gathered individual-level data on nearly 100,000 employees across 10 senior living providers, using a framework based on more than 40 years of employee retention research. While there are several drivers behind a


decision to stay or go, job satisfaction was a major one. The Great Place to Work Trust Index™


survey is the most widely taken employee survey worldwide: More than 100 million employees have taken this standard instru- ment on workplace and job satisfaction. Several seminal studies in this field have


shown that job satisfaction impacts employ- ee retention. In particular, job dissatisfac- tion likely leads employees to think about quitting, which then leads them to think about the costs and utility to searching for another job, which leads to their seeking and eventually taking another job. Employees who rate their experience of


purpose more highly—such as by expressing that this is not “just a job,” feeling like they make a difference in the role and feeling good about community contributions—are employees who are more likely to stay. In addition, and not surprisingly, employees


who feel like they want to work at the organi- zation for a long time tend to stay longer. What are some ways to address the reten-


tion challenge?


Prioritize upskilling and career pathing For direct care staff, having a career path can mean the difference between staying versus leaving. We recommend that opera- tors collectively create upskilling opportuni- ties (Argentum’s apprenticeship program in development, for example) or develop them in-house, along with career path options. Furthermore, these options must be effec- tively communicated and widely adopted by frontline managers to get the message out clearly and to support staff such as servers, housekeepers, aides, and others in making the most of these opportunities.


Address individual barriers Employers who address employees’ per- sonal caregiving needs and commute con- ditions—whether through direct support, such as vouchers, or through allowances or flexibility in work times—tend to retain em- ployees at a higher rate. Consider a strategy that provides assistance to employees who are caregivers to their loved ones or may struggle getting to and from work.


A robust communication strategy that showcases resident and employee stories underscores the purpose behind the work. This communication should reach prospec- tive candidates as well as current employees.


36 SENIOR LIVING EXECUTIVE JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2020


Engagement Makes the Difference From Activated Insights and Great Place to Work


Showcase the mission and purpose Employees engaged in the greater purpose of the work tend to stay longer, and candi- dates who are more likely to prefer a longer tenure are attracted to the greater purpose of the work in senior living. Communica- tion is key to developing this sense of pur- pose. A robust communication strategy that showcases resident and employee stories underscores the purpose behind the work. This communication should reach prospec- tive candidates as well as current employees.


Obtain and use the latest and most accurate data to benchmark pay of each role It is imperative that senior living operators compare wages for similar roles and pay within market rates. While national and re- gional data is available, local data is shown to be the most important in retention. This strategy addresses the fundamental ability of an individual with a certain skill set to compare pay for those skills within their geographic area—the area that matters most to an individual employee.


Know the data Ensure you understand the impact that data and new technologies, such as machine learning, can have on your business in driv- ing down employee retention.


Do what works Explore and implement employee engage- ment and retention programs that have been shown to work. Doing nothing likely means more of the status quo.


Checklist for retention • Know your competition. It includes the mall (for security guards), hospitals (for


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