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Investing in Retention Initiatives Makes Sense for Millions of Reasons

December 8, 2021 | Mark Woodka


Every year, for over a decade, I have left the Argentum conference energized by the passion and dedication of senior living providers. This year was no different. Countless providers shared how they adapted throughout the pandemic to deliver high quality care and service to residents.

These conversations usually lead to how providers are implementing strategies to differentiate themselves within the communities they serve to drive occupancy growth. These strategies are based on a plethora of data that includes a community’s needs, competitive analysis of service offerings, desired amenities, and cost implications.

However, if I asked a provider point-blank, what really differentiates your organization from the competition, I most often hear “it’s our people.”

I believe this to my core. Your people are your greatest differentiator.

Meanwhile, month over month, since the onset of the pandemic, the senior living workforce has shrunk. On the surface, this data shows a disconnect. It suggests that your greatest assets – your employees – don’t feel valued and supported enough to continue serving in the industry.

For additional perspective, OnShift recently surveyed more than 2800 healthcare workers to gain insight into their daily lives, both personally and professionally. Some of the most compelling insights provided were the responses when asked to elaborate on what would make their job more satisfying. Frontline workers by and large focused on better pay, increased communication and appreciation from management.

Better Pay, justified

Based on my conversations with providers, I believe they would love to improve the pay rate of their frontline workers, even beyond what they already have. But that money must come from somewhere.

A logical place for providers to start is evaluating the costs of turnover and hiring replacements. Consider this: the cost of turnover for an organization of 1,000 employees with a 75% turnover rate is upwards of $2.6 million. In this example, if turnover is cut in half, that savings could translate into a nearly $2/hour raise for all frontline workers, driving additional satisfaction and allowing providers to better attract employees.

In addition, providing employees instant access to their earned wages between paychecks has become extremely popular with senior living employees. Without such programs, employees, who are often living paycheck to paycheck, are stuck choosing between incurring a late payment penalty or a high-interest payday loan to cover an unexpected expense.

OnShift customers who utilize this benefit have seen incredible success, with over $130 million accessed by employees and 94% of users saying that they would recommend this benefit to a friend or colleague.

Communication, appreciation

During the height of the pandemic, organizations were constantly communicating with staff. They routinely provided organizational updates, discussed policies, and showed appreciation for the hard work of their employees. The impact was overwhelmingly positive – OnShift customers saw higher staff satisfaction, even during the pandemic, as communication increased. This level of communication and recognition needs to remain.

Progressive organizations recognize that relying on annual surveys is not enough to make an impact on employee satisfaction. Today’s workforce wants a voice to influence change, open lines of communication with managers and recognition for their hard work.

These providers are utilizing technology like OnShift to frequently collect staff feedback with convenient pulse surveys and provide a systematic and equitable rewards program. Providers have expressed the immense value this has had in turning insight into action by immediately addressing staff concerns and recognizing their contributions.

When you put these practices together, the justification for investing in retention becomes apparent. Providers commonly report lower overtime and agency use, higher engagement and turnover reduction by up to 33%. It just makes sense to invest in your differentiators – your people.

This article originally appeared in the November/December 2021 issue of Argentum Senior Living Executive.

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About Mark Woodka

Mark Woodka is CEO of OnShift and has over 25 years of experience in enterprise software sales and marketing, having worked for startup organizations as well as Fortune 500 companies. He often leverages his extensive background in technology-enabled process improvements speaking at industry conferences as well as authoring articles on long-term care trends and issues.

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