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#Argentum2020 Recap: Innovative Senior Care Workforce Practices For The New Era

September 30, 2020 | Lisa Fordyce

Innovative Senior Care Workforce Practices For The New Era (1)Last week I attended Argentum’s annual conference, which was of course held virtually this year. While I think many of us are still new to conducting business this way, I have to say I was extremely impressed by the thought that went into this event. Everything from the session content to the execution of the technology involved was so professional and well done.

I was able to connect with several people that I would normally have caught up with at the in-person conference via the chat function in the platform. It was such a nice touch since feeling that human connection during these times is so important. Obviously, the pandemic was a topic of discussion throughout the event, but it was so refreshing to learn that most seemed to have a positive outlook on the situation. I did not get that sense of doom and gloom that is often portrayed to the public.

I got to chat with many of our wonderful customers and learn how OnShift has helped them during the pandemic. It really makes what we do here on a daily basis that much more meaningful.

One provider said that OnShift has been a huge help in improving communication with employees. They said OnShift enabled them to consistently get policy changes, messages of thanks and encouragement and links to relative content and videos from senior leadership directly to all staff.

Another provider said OnShift Engage was instrumental in helping them uncover and fix issues employees were experiencing on the front lines. The feedback collected showed them that they needed more PPE and supplies for employees. This functionality was an “eye opener” for leadership.

As Argentum’s partner, OnShift sponsored the workforce development track. I was honored to be asked to lead a “Zoom Room Discussion” titled Workforce Imperatives for the New Normal. I was so thrilled that more than 40 people joined in for what would be such an honest and inspiring conversation about supporting the hardworking employees in senior living now and beyond the pandemic. I was even told there were about 15 people in the waiting room before it started – which only goes to show this industry’s commitment to supporting its employees.

During the session we discussed the critical role communication with frontline staff has played throughout the pandemic, how providers have adapted new recruiting and hiring strategies, and best practices for supporting staff now and into the future. Here are just a few of the innovative strategies that came out of the discussion.

“Thank You Pay” In Lieu Of “Hero Pay”

One attendee brought up something that I had not thought about but that really resonated with myself and the other participants. Since the onset of the pandemic, we have talked about “hero pay” as a way to show employees how much we value and appreciate their hard work during these uncertain times.

We all know that our employees are heroes and were happy to have the chance to call them that. However, the phrasing is problematic in a couple of ways. First, when you return employees to their normal hourly wage or remove the “hero pay,” you may inadvertently send the message that they are no longer doing heroic work – which we all know couldn’t be farther from the truth.

Secondly, it demeans all of the heroic work they did before the crisis. Sure, these employees are more essential than ever, but caring for our nation’s elders has always been heroic work!

That’s why a few providers have decided to call the temporary raise “thank you pay.” This lets the increased wage function as a reward for going above and beyond.

Adding An Objective, Third Party To Collect & Address Employee Concerns

A chaplain for one organization talked about the success they have had since implementing his position. He acts as a resource dedicated to helping employees during this time. While supervisors want to do right by their staff, many have taken on new responsibilities and don’t have as much to give employees the immediate support they need. That’s where the chaplain comes in. Employees can approach him directly and he is responsible for working with the appropriate parties to develop a solution. He can do so quickly and without bias.

Outdoor Job Fairs To Safely Support Ongoing Hiring Needs

While this might have been something that many would be hesitant to do at the start of the pandemic, outdoor activities have proven to be much safer than indoor gatherings – especially if you are adhering to social distancing protocols and mask mandates.

Prior to COVID-19, many providers relied on walk-in applicants to fill open positions. Realizing this, one participant said their community has started hosting outdoor job fairs in their parking lot. This a safe and effective way to target those that might have walked in off the street to fill out an application as well as the growing number of displaced workers looking for temporary income.

Thank you to everyone that joined me, contributed and even just listened in for some best practices. You are all doing such a wonderful job during these challenging times and we can’t thank you enough.

And a special thanks to Argentum! We know a lot went into the execution of this event and you are all rock stars for creating such an engaging and collaborative experience for us all. Having these conversations about our future and changing the meaning of what it means to work in senior living are more important than ever and we appreciate you giving us an outlet to do just that.

Stay tuned for more best practices shared during the workforce development track in the coming weeks!

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About Lisa Fordyce

Having started her career as a caregiver and expanding into operations leadership, Lisa has held senior executive operations positions at national senior housing organizations, leading overall business strategies and day-to-day operations to deliver quality resident care and services. She is one of the most widely recognized operations leaders in the senior living profession and is known for her ability to make an impact by emphasizing both business and quality care. Prior to joining OnShift, Lisa was Chief Operating Officer at Senior Lifestyle Corporation, leading the overall operational strategies. She has held operations management positions with Emeritus Senior Living and ARV Assisted Living and served as an Ohio Assisted Living Association Board Trustee. Lisa is also an avid volunteer, raising money for Lungevity - Breathe Deep Newark, working as a teacher volunteer for preschool and k-3 children, and participating in a Helping Hands program at her local church.

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