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5 Tips For Engaging Senior Living Employees

May 5, 2016 | Marti Bowman

Employee turnover is a top concern among post-acute care and senior living providers, and one they’re actively trying to combat amid significant wage pressures and an impending caregiver shortage.

CNA_group_photo_-_small.jpgTheir fears are founded, too, as estimates for staff turnover range from a low of 21% to a whopping 135%, with an average of 42%—hardly a sustainable way to do business. Not only do high turnover rates lead to decreased resident satisfaction, but turnover also results in lower quality of care and inefficiencies in staffing across the board.

While simply making sure that employees are happy in their roles surely should be a priority, providers need to focus on one aspect of worker retention, in particular: engagement.

Only one-third of U.S. workers were engaged in the workplace in 2015, according to Gallup survey findings, while the rest were deemed not engaged or actively disengaged. That means there’s plenty of room for improvement.

Here are five tips toward establishing an engaged staff—an increasingly tall task with the next generation of senior care workers entering the workforce each day.

  1. Mentorship Programs —It’s important to create connections between employees so they don’t feel isolated in the work they’re doing. Mentorship programs make such connections possible and prove ideal not only because they provide accountability for employees as they work toward career goals, but also  because they serve as an outlet for questions and concerns relating to the job. 

    Reverse mentorship programs are also gaining appeal in some organizations, where new employees teach existing staff a new skill or process.

  2. Scheduling —Getting staff involved in crafting their own schedules is a surefire means of engagement. That’s not to say you should give workers complete control over when they work, but allowing them some say in their schedules shows that you prize their work-life balance. Better yet, when employees participate in choosing their shifts, they’re more likely to show up for work—a win for companies and workers alike. Adopting flexible staff scheduling software can help you manage your scheduling workflow and create best-fit schedules.

    This applies to meetings, as well. Hold meetings when they are convenient for staff, rather than solely for leaders. Even if that means arranging three meetings a day to accommodate three shifts of nursing staff, it’s worth it.

  3. Benefits —When employers offer benefits aside from regular compensation, staff will likely be encouraged to engage more with their work, because it shows that you value them both as a part of your organization and beyond it. Offering benefits can also be a hedge against impending minimum wage increases, allowing you to be more competitive in the job market.

    Benefits might involve flexible paid time off, a 401(k) plan with an employer match, access to the community’s gym or company-wide volunteer opportunities. Consider this a way of investing in your employees, and they will return the favor in the work that they do.

  4. Rewards and Incentives —Beyond benefits, rewarding employees for everyday tasks and jobs well done goes a long way to keeping them engaged. Creating incentives motivates workers to engage, too, and sometimes even go above and beyond. Rewarding specific behavior like limiting call-offs or punching in and out on time, you can drive organizational initiatives. Rewards don’t have to be monetary, either. A voucher for an extra day off or a sweet treat can be just as fulfilling.

  5. Staff Surveys —Requesting feedback directly from your staff through workforce surveys can be a way to engage through communication. It’s important to ask for feedback regularly (rather than just once a year) and to make results public. Then, put a plan in place to address concerns highlighted in the surveys. Employees will feel that their thoughts, experiences and opinions matter, especially if change is implemented based on survey results.

It simply makes good business sense to have engaged employees. It pays off in lower turnover rates and less absenteeism, higher productivity, better customer satisfaction and ultimately, company profit. Remember that the process to engage post-acute care and senior living employees doesn’t always require huge policy shifts—it can be accomplished by executing various employee-centric practices on a consistent basis.

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About Marti Bowman

As Chief Marketing Officer, Marti brings significant experience leading go-to-market strategies, product marketing, communications and PR programs for technology startups as well as Fortune 500 organizations. Prior to OnShift, Marti was a principal product director at Oracle, where she drove global go-to-market strategies for the Oracle Fusion Middleware product portfolio. She joined Oracle through the acquisition of BEA Systems, where she was a product marketing manager.

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