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Webinar Recap: Recruitment & Retention Best Practices From SavaSeniorCare

Jess Modic


Recruitment & Retention Best Practices From SavaSeniorCare (1)OnShift recently had the pleasure of joining Lesley Mastalerz, VP, Talent Acquisition of SavaSeniorCare Administrative & Consulting Services, LLC, for a webinar hosted by McKnight’s Long-Term Care News. The goal was to share how SavaSeniorCare, a top skilled nursing provider, is assisting its client centers in creating a memorable employee experience that boosts recruitment and retention.

The Pandemic Heightens Workforce Woes

There’s no question that the pandemic has exacerbated many of the industry’s struggles. “Our normal staffing challenges were amplified exponentially,” said Lesley.

Like most providers, SavaSeniorCare experienced higher turnover as fear and uncertainty took hold, employees were forced to quarantine after potential exposure and others had to cut their work hours to tend to personal responsibilities. Additionally, their hiring efforts slowed and sourcing new applicants became difficult. Unfortunately, that expected uptick in interest from displaced workers at the start of the pandemic did not materialize the way providers had hoped.

These challenges are in line with what we are seeing across the industry. The top workforce challenges are finding and hiring qualified candidates (67%), employee turnover (57%) and staffing to meet resident care needs (48%).

Meeting Recruiting & Hiring Challenges Head On

Lifting & Shifting

SavaSeniorCare evolved their recruiting process, “lifting and shifting” the hiring responsibilities from the COVID-impacted centers. Their district clinical team members began using Zoom & FaceTime to conduct interviews to reduce the foot traffic in their buildings and to offset their increased staffing challenges, they held drive-thru hiring events in parking lots and expanded their access to subcontracting agencies by developing an internal Agency Contract Management team.

“While agency staff is not a long-term intention, this assisted us in meeting the temporary rotating COVID coverage needs at our centers,” explained Lesley.

To further expedite the hiring process, they moved acceptance letters online – adopting pre-hire paperwork with e-signature capability.

Building The Bench

While focusing on hiring for their immediate staffing needs was a priority, they couldn’t lose sight of their long-term staffing goals, Lesley said.

“I have to say I’m very proud of our leadership recruitment team, who have worked diligently on behalf of the client centers to drive those open leadership positions down,” she said. Today the organization now boasts a historic low number of open leadership positions across their 169 client centers. Today, all of their nursing home administrator (NHA) positions are filled and they have just eight DON openings. This offers more leadership stability in the client centers and therefore more staffing stability due to minimal leadership turnover.

SavaSeniorCare’s proactive efforts include an AIT (administrator in training) program and instituting “float positions” for leadership to “leverage talent when [they] need it and where [they] need it.”

Making Diversity & Inclusion A Hiring Staple

SavaSeniorCare’s client centers partner with their Diversity & Inclusion Council in their hiring efforts. Additionally, their leadership recruiting team includes Certified Diversity Recruiters.

This commitment to diversity came into play when evaluating creative ways to meet their staffing needs, bringing a pre-pandemic international recruiting effort to fruition. “We are excited to welcome over 167 RNs hopefully to begin by Q4 2021 as part of that program,” said Lesley.

SavaSeniorCare has also enlisted the help of internal cultural ambassadors to warmly welcome this group and help them smoothly transition in their new roles and life in the US.

Offering A Modern & Candidate-Centric Hiring Experience

Prior to investing in technology to improve their recruiting and hiring processes, Lesley says that SavaSeniorCare experienced many of the typical challenges faced without the right solution in place: a lack of standardized processes across their centers, high job board costs and no real way to measure key hiring metrics.

“All of the previously mentioned strategies for supporting our client centers are helpful, but making the right impression initially is most impactful,” Lesley said. “So, moving to an innovative applicant tracking system will be key in our initiatives to upgrading the candidate experience.”

OnShift Employ, our talent acquisition software, offers integrations with job boards, allows for cohesion and standardized process across all client centers, provides insights into key hiring metrics and more.

A recent OnShift Employ survey found that organizations saw up to a 75% increase in the number of applications received, a 35% reduction in time to hire and a $60,000 savings in annual recruitment ad spend.

Retention Best Practices: A Solid Strategy Starts At The Top

Lesley shared a quote from SavaSeniorCare’s CEO, Jerry Roles: “Our workforce is the heart of our organization and we appreciate every employee.” Their commitment to their workforce is also highlighted in their mission statement and aptly resonates throughout their organization.

“To [SavaSeniorCare], and most providers out there, employee satisfaction is key to retention.” Lesley explained. “Once we’ve built our dream team, we have to invest in them to support them and keep them.”

Here are some of the measures SavaSeniorCare is currently using to boost employee satisfaction and ultimately, retention.

Rewards That Make An Impact

Like most providers, SavaSeniorCare enacted pandemic-specific rewards such as boost pay and hero pay. The individual client centers selected the rewards-based system that was best suited for their team’s needs. That is truly a testament to the employee-centric culture they have built and shows not only that they trust their management team but value each individual staff member.

“We will continue to build upon these rewards programs with the introduction of OnShift Engage to our centers and I’m very excited about this,” Lesley said.

Our employee engagement software gives management the ability to systematically reward staff for key performance behaviors such as punching in and out on time, picking up open shifts and going above and beyond at work.

“We want to ensure our staff feel consistently recognized and rewarded and this gives us the platform to do that,” she said.

SavaSeniorCare will also be using the pulse surveys in OnShift Engage to gauge overall staff satisfaction and capture feedback in real time to enhance the lives of their employees.

Reinvesting In The Present & The Future

To further make a positive impact on employees’ lives, SavaSeniorCare has re-negotiated their benefit offerings, moving to a “white glove” service and implementing a concierge national benefits administrator. This new administrator has added telemedicine services and access to counseling services to promote mental and financial health.

“I’m happy to say we reinvested those savings that were negotiated back into the employees in different formats, including reduced cost program offerings and free benefits coverage for select critical clinical and leadership roles,” Lesley said.

As part of their commitment to helping staff live better lives, SavaSeniorCare client centers give employees access to earned wages between paychecks through OnShift Wallet, our financial wellness software.

“This helps them strengthen their financial position personally by avoiding late fees, overdrafts, high interest rates and things of that nature,” she explained. “But we also found that this vicariously gave us a competitive staffing edge for select roles against the fast food industry, which offers a similar platform.”

“Clearly they are enjoying this support,” said Lesley, as client center employees accessed $5.9M in early wages in 2020.

SavaSeniorCare also uses OnShift Schedule to build schedules that work for their employees and meet staffing needs across their centers.

“This platform has increased labor efficiencies through proactive premium pay, management and predictive staffing analytics,” she said. “From a recruiting and communication standpoint, we also leverage the messaging capabilities for important updates and available shifts.”

In 2020, SavaSeniorCare used the auto-approve feature in OnShift Schedule to fill 30,000 open shifts, which adds up to an estimated 2,500 hours in administrative savings. This capability helps their client centers prevent costly overtime and improve efficiencies when managing the schedule. It also ties in nicely into OnShift Wallet, where employees can see their available earned wages increase as they work more shifts.

Sending Support Where It’s Needed

Lesley said SavaSeniorCare launched an internal travel team pilot program to get client centers extra staffing support. The organization offered scheduling and location flexibility and covered all travel and housing expenses.

“They say many hands make light work and our healthcare heroes were happy to step up and fill the need,” she added.

Creating A Caring Employee Experience

SavaSeniorCare not only strives to support their staff, but to create a lasting impression that makes them want to stay long term. Internal programs that drive this effort include their Care Connection & Helping Hands, which rewards and recognizes direct-care staff, and Storms of Life, which functions as a financial hardship fund for employees when they need it most.

Additionally, they consistently practice transparent, open lines of communication with their company announcement platform, New Day News, and a Diversity & Inclusion Council.

Modern Technology Is A Game-Changer

As you can see, technology plays a huge role in many of the initiatives SavaSeniorCare has in place to support staff and provide that outstanding employee experience.

“We continually strive to improve upon our processes on behalf of our client centers. And to that end, we’re investing in new systems that support those centers by infusing technology into the candidate experience, from application to onboarding, as well as the continued employee experience to improve their daily function as the workforce that supports our patients, residents and their families,” Lesley explained. “We’re excited that OnShift is going to play a huge role in this initiative. The partnership we’ve had with OnShift has been extremely valuable to us and we’re excited to expand this partnership to include their entire human capital management platform.”

All of us at OnShift could not be more excited about this expanded partnership and look forward to working with Lesley and the rest of the team at SavaSeniorCare in the future.

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About Jess Modic

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

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