Senior Living Organizations Will T

his year, that word is thrive, which means “to grow vigorously.” Itʼs a fitting word, coming off a year like

2020. The industry was faced with more than its fair share of challenges last year. And while right now this year still feels a whole lot like last year, I have high hopes that at some point, 2021 will feel like a new beginning. However, it will take a few critical steps

to get there. As we embark on our 2021 journey, here are a few ways I believe senior living organizations can thrive.

Learn from the past Applying the lessons of the past is a critical component of thriving. And while it’s safe to say all of us would prefer to move for- ward after the challenges of 2020, I think we can all admit we learned quite a bit last year—specifically about the importance of supporting employees and getting creative with resident programming. In 2020, organizations really revved up

their communication efforts with employ- ees—and this is a trend I’m confident will become commonplace in senior living communities moving forward. Across our customer-base, we saw a significant uptick in messaging between management and employees throughout the year. These messages covered a range of critical top- ics—PPE availability, regulatory updates, and safety measures, as well as notes of appreciation—and gave our customers a contactless method for connecting with and engaging their staff. Additionally, organizations implemented

new support measures to help employees during this challenging time. And these efforts did not go unnoticed— as staff comments in our employee engage-

ment software reflect appreciation for their employers keeping lines of communication open and prioritizing their well-being. Resident engagement is another area in

which providers really excelled. You’d think that a pandemic would hinder these efforts, but across the industry we saw no shortage of innovative ideas as activity professionals and caregivers creatively helped residents thrive in isolation.

Prioritize the present Of course, we must also concentrate on the tasks at hand. And for many senior living providers, getting residents and staff mem- bers vaccinated is priority one, especially after gaining insight into the number of staff willing to take the COVID-19 vaccine. Understanding employee concerns has

led to numerous education efforts, with many organizations bringing in medical experts to present the facts and answer questions. Others are offering incentives for getting

inoculated, like a cash reward and company swag. Some providers have created PSAs showing leadership receiving the vaccine and others have called on local celebrities to endorse it. Additionally, Argentum and other in-

dustry organizations have created several resources and materials to help provid- ers educate staff and encourage vaccine participation.

Plan for the future Our most recent Workforce 360 survey showed that 71 percent of respondents believe that the industry’s hiring challenges will remain the same or worsen over the next three years. This top challenge is fol- lowed closely by retaining employees, man-


Thrive in 2021—And Here’s How By Mark Woodka, CEO, OnShift

aging labor costs and consistently staffing to resident needs. Fortunately, providers can see improve- ments in all these areas with a focus on one thing: the employee experience. Many providers recognize this and plan

to offer perks such as rewards and recogni- tion programs (51 percent), flexible schedul- ing (41 percent), and access to earned wages between paychecks to better meet the needs of their staff (26 percent). Providers also indicated that their organi-

zations plan to invest in technologies such as employee communication (68 percent), staff scheduling (70 percent), and rewards and recognition (51 percent) software. During this year’s virtual company meeting, we arranged a montage of all the incredible ways that providers supported residents and staff despite 2020’s extremely difficult circumstances. Nearly our entire organiza- tion was in tears after it was played. What you all have been able to accomplish is truly admirable and inspiring. And that’s why 2021 is going to be senior living’s year. I can feel it. I hope you do too.

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