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Senior Living & LTC Providers: Is Your Feedback Loop Failing?

October 12, 2017 | Peter Corless

Senior living and LTC providers prevent your feedback loop from failingEmployee feedback is an essential part of organizational success. It ensures that management and employees are on the same page and that both they and the company continue to thrive. Collecting staff commentsboth positive and negativeis vital for ensuring your work environment is a place where people want to be and will help in your recruiting, employee engagement and retention efforts.

It’s when leadership—those at the facility level, regional management level or in the HR department—fails to collect feedback at all or neglects the feedback they receive that things start to go south. You could see a drag in operations and high employee turnover from disengaged employees. How would you feel if you were honest and open about something, and your input wasn’t taken seriously or even addressed? You would probably feel unheard and unvalued, which is demoralizing.

Here are a few methods for soliciting and handling employee suggestions to ensure your organization has a productive feedback loop in place.

Collect Constructive Feedback

One of the first signs of a failing feedback loop is receiving low-quality comments. Obviously, some suggestions will be more actionable than others, but eliciting honest feedback requires more effort from leadership than simply sticking a suggestion box in the employee breakroom. This method is outdated, especially when trying to engage younger workers who respond better to open, face-to-face communication.

Instead, try implementing different channels for providing feedback—both anonymously and publicly. Consider a suggestion board in the breakroom where caregivers and other personnel can post their ideas and others can second them or build upon them to garner more support. Think strength in numbers.

Another approach employers are starting to embrace is collecting private feedback via frequent, simple staff surveys that are easy and convenient for employees to take. This method prevents smaller issues from becoming larger ones since management receives the feedback right away, instead of waiting until the end of the month, or even year, to uncover problems and attempt to resolve them.

Pay Attention

It may be tempting for managers and C-suite executives to let the HR department handle employee comments and concerns, but that could be part of the reason why your feedback loop is not working. You can reverse that trend by having higher ups take a personal role in addressing the feedback collected.

When leaders listen to their employees, they foster an environment that’s open and honest, where communication is made easy. Some questions that you might use to engage your employees in the feedback loop include:

  • How’s are things going at work?
  • What’s going well?
  • Do you need anything in particular in order to better perform your job?
  • How can I (and this company) help?
  • Would you refer someone to work for this company?
  • If you could change one thing about your job, what would it be?
  • Do you feel respected by your coworkers?
  • Do you see yourself working for this company a year from now?
  • On a scale of one to 10, how comfortable would feel approaching management with a problem you might have?
  • Does this company live up to its organizational values?
  • If you could describe the culture here in one word, what would that word be?

While some of these may seem like simple questions, employees will appreciate your interest in their well-being and the one-on-one time with you. The information gathered from these planned or impromptu discussions can shed light on the challenges and triumphs senior living and long-term care workers face daily.

Follow-Up On Feedback

Acknowledging and following up on employee comments and concerns is crucial to maintaining both your credibility and the productivity of the feedback loop. Not doing so can alienate workers and when the time comes for future feedback surveys or sessions, employees will feel more reluctant to share their thoughts. Worse, if feedback isn’t followed up on, it could lead to employee turnover.

In fact, a survey from CareerBuilder found that 48% of employees are more likely to stay with their company if they’re asked for feedback and it’s acted upon.

Not everything an employee suggests will be feasible to implement, and not every comment will be positive. But leadership should make a conscious effort to implement some of the feedback that comes their way and to let employees know if they aren’t able to do so and why.

Caregivers and other employees will notice when their feedback, particularly negative comments, are received and resolved. Correcting those shortfalls helps increase employee engagement and makes the community a better place to work. Plus, employees feel more connected to those that demonstrate they have their best interest in mind.

Coming Full Circle

The feedback loop is an important cycle in every senior living and LTC workplace, but too often it’s broken.  To change course, senior care organizations should make it a priority to collect constructive feedback, pay close attention to what workers are saying and actually follow through.

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About Peter Corless

Peter Corless is Executive Vice President of Enterprise Development for OnShift. Peter is a recognized HR leader in post-acute care and is well-known for his achievements at some of the country’s largest post-acute care organizations, including Kindred Healthcare and Genesis HealthCare. As an experienced, chief administrative and human resources officer within these organizations, he developed strategies that reduced turnover, improved recruiting and hiring strategies, and reduced labor costs.

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