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Nine Stress-Busters That Create Employee Engagement in Senior Care

July 14, 2017 | Mike Pumphrey

stress-busters-that-create-employee-engagement-boost-productivity .jpgIf there’s one thing that hinders worker performance and overall company productivity, it’s employee stress. And when senior living and long-term care (LTC) providers don’t address it, that’s when the real issues arise.

According to Forbes, stress has not only been associated with physical problems like high blood pressure, headaches and weakened immune systems, but also creates tension and problems when it comes to a worker’s ability to concentrate and participate in a team. All of this translates to lower productivity and engagement levels, which can ultimately hinder company goals and resident care.

Here are a few strategies for curbing employee stress to help boost productivity and engagement.

    1. Schedule stress-relieving activities: Activities that are meant to relieve stress can have a significant impact and give workers something to look forward to. These can even be as simple as leaving adult coloring books in the breakroom or organizing group yoga or meditation classes. Exercise, even light exercise, as well as spending time outside has also been proven to combat stress. Allowing your caregivers to take short walking breaks outside of the building throughout the day can also make a big impact on an employee’s overall mood and stress level.
    2. Implement an open door policy: Oftentimes employees grow stressed not from the work they’re doing, but because they’re unsure of expectations. By simply providing open communication channels between staff and higher-ups, workers will be able to address their uncertainties and voice their frustrations. Letting staff know that their suggestions are valued and their opinions are respected also largely contributes to employee engagement.
    3. Allow employees to have a say in their schedule: Flexible scheduling goes a long way for employee engagement and stress relief in terms of creating work-life balance and fostering the feeling of control over daily tasks. Work with employees to get a sense of their preferred days and shifts to work, and try to schedule around those preferences. In addition, create a fair and balanced system for claiming open shifts. With OnShift’s mobile scheduling app, schedulers can alert all available staff members via the communication preference of their choice when a shift is open, giving everyone an equal opportunity to claim it.
Pro Tip: Sending short and simple pulse surveys is a great way to get feedback and gauge employee satisfaction
    1. Provide healthy snacks: Keep vending machine junk food cravings to a minimum by providing or selling healthy snacks—apples, a veggie tray, nuts, low-sugar protein and energy bars, etc. Healthy foods both satisfy hunger and provide an energy boost.
    2. Make meetings meaningful: Wasted time is sure to lead to major stress, so when employees attend meetings only to feel that they’ve taken nothing away from it, stress is sure to follow. Unless a meeting is absolutely necessary, consider alternate forms of conveying the message, whether that’s via email or otherwise.
    3. Bring in therapy dogs: Here's something that's sure to be a hit with everyone—employees, managers and residents alike! Dogs are proven stress-relievers and there's no bad day that can't be made at least slightly better by the affection of an adorable dog.
    4. Be sure employees take a lunch break and offer it for free: Stress seems to compound for people if they stay in the same place or work on the same task for too long. Be sure that all workers are taking their lunch breaks, and consider offering free meals from your dining hall. Make sure the break room is a warm and welcoming space for staff to enjoy their meal and unwind. Once properly fed and recharged, employees will return to work more productive.
    5. Invest in technology: Technology makes life easier, there’s no question about it, so it naturally makes work easier, too. With that said, making life more efficient for staff, both when it comes to do their job and managing their schedule, will boost employee satisfaction.
    6. Avoid micro-management: Let workers do their job and don't tell them what to do at every turn. They may not do things exactly as you would, but that doesn’t mean their way is wrong. After all, everyone is different. Only intervene if you’ve determined it’s absolutely necessary or compromises resident care in any way.
    Employee stress is certainly a challenge faced by all senior living and LTC providers. However, those that implement a few of these simple stress-reducing practices will create a better environment for management, employees and residents. It's key that providers make technology a priority to help, both for measuring staff satisfaction and giving employees more control of and easier access to their schedules. Those that do will see success while those that don’t are sure to face the continuous struggle of combatting turnover and falling short on employee engagement initiatives. On which side of the coin would you rather be?

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About Mike Pumphrey

Mike Pumphrey is Vice President of Product Marketing at OnShift. His expertise in staffing and labor management strategies in long-term care and senior living is foundational to his role leading OnShift’s Product Marketing team. Mike works hand-in-hand with state and national associations, senior care providers, and with OnShift’s Customer Success and Product teams to create impactful best practices aimed to help solve the daily workforce challenges in senior care. Mike shares insights, research and recommendations to improve clinical, operational, and financial outcomes through regular blog posts and conference speaking engagements.

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