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ICYMI: Occupancy Growth & Employee Retention Strategies From Osprey Village

May 19, 2021 | Jess Modic

Peer Perspectives Occupancy Growth & Employee Retention Strategies From Osprey Village (1)At this stage of the pandemic, two of the key priorities for senior care organizations include rebuilding occupancy and stabilizing their workforce. So, when we learned that one of our customers was seeing success in both of these areas, we knew we had to share their story.

My colleague and I recently sat down with Matthew Barger, Executive Director at Osprey Village, a Premier life plan retirement community, to learn more about the strategies they put in place to help them achieve an 11% increase in occupancy growth and a 54% employee turnover reduction, among other stellar results.

Osprey Village, which is located on Amelia Island, Florida, is part of Senior Living Communities, which operates 15 communities and offers independent living, assisted living and memory care services. Osprey Village employs about 130 team members and serves approximately 200 members.

Let's jump right into the key strategies Osprey Village has leveraged to create a culture and community that resonate with both team members and members alike.

Making Team Members Part Of The Sales Process

Matthew, a former restaurant owner, says that senior living is simply “hospitality with a purpose.” He incorporates his knowledge and background by making all team members part of the sales process.

“Happy team members are vital to the success of the sale,” he explained. “If a tour walks through, the expectation is that frontline team members are engaging with the prospect and their family to make them feel more welcome, more at home.”

To help team members prepare to interact with prospects during community tours, management posts key information about each visitor on a communication board. They include details like their name, what level of care they are seeking, where they are from and any other fun facts they uncover during their discovery call. They also use OnShift’s messaging feature to quickly communicate these key details to all employees. They aim to create connections among team members and prospective members. For example, they made sure that a prospect and an employee both hailing from Cincinnati had a chance to chat during their visit.

When asked how their organization handles those that are hesitant to be a part of the sales process, Matthew says, “If team members are here for the right reasons and are truly engaged in their role, then they understand that we hang our hat on the level of care services we provide, so why not share that?” Those that are uncomfortable are simply asked to wave and welcome those passing through the community, which he says can also make a big difference.         

This practice has led to an 11% increase in member occupancy from March 2020 to April 2021, which is just fantastic.

Building A Culture That Breeds Retention, The Osprey Way 

We’ve heard it time and time again, and Matthew concurs: a strong onboarding experience is critical to employee retention. He says he has the privilege of being the first to meet with new team members and kicks things off with a discussion about their own personal journey and career goals.

“Accountability is a two-way street and it’s up to us as leaders to ask employees about their journey, figure out where we fit in that journey and learn how we can help them get to the next step.”

Encourage Feedback & Facilitate Open Lines Of Communication

During the onboarding process, Osprey Village encourages team members to voice their concerns so management can have the opportunity to fix any issues early, which ultimately prevents unhappy employees from turning over. For example, when a new team member decided the housekeeping role was not a good fit for her, she approached Matthew to discuss other open positions.

“We already spent the $2000-$2500 on onboarding this person, we know she has the heart for the job, why not take the time to ask them, what could be the next step for you?” he said. Eventually, this team member moved into a home health aide role and is thriving.

He says that the culture they’ve built at Osprey Village has helped them recruit two-fold. Current team members have helped them recruit both new employees and new members.

“They believe in what we’re doing,” he explained.

Conduct Stay Interviews Early

Osprey Village conducts stay interviews three days into onboarding. Management asks questions about how things are going so far and if they have any questions about their involvement in the sales process. “This gives new team members that are still in the honeymoon phase of our time together the ability to share any possible frustrations so it doesn’t go three weeks, three months, three years and they still don’t know where to park, their clock-in isn’t working correctly or their coaching wasn’t as good as it could be.”

Promote Work-Life Balance

 Why do we only schedule certain positions from 8 am-4 pm? That is the question Matthew posed to attendees.

“Is there someone, maybe it’s a single parent, that would love to have breakfast with their children and see them off to school and arrive at 10 am and leave at 6 pm?” They have these discussions around the shift times they offer, asking themselves “Is this the best we can do? Or is there something better that would not only suit the needs of our business but suit the needs of those respective team members?”

As a result of this awesome culture, Matthew says Osprey Village has saved about $150,000 year over year with its 54% decrease in team member turnover from March 2020 to March 2021.

I'd like to thank Matthew for sharing the Osprey Village story with us. To learn more about these culture-centric practices, as well as how Osprey Village is taking an agile approach to recruiting, you can watch the webinar on demand.

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About Jess Modic

Jess Modic is the Vice President of Customer Success at OnShift.

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