We bet you’ve heard this story before: You hire a new employee. Spend hours training them. Grow accustomed to their presence. Then one day you receive the news: they’ve quit. Suddenly, not only do you have to find someone to replace them, but you also have to figure out how to keep things running while you find their replacement.
It’s estimated that staff turnover in senior living communities is on average 50 percent. That can lead to a lot of other issues besides not having enough hands on deck–lost revenue, disgruntled and overworked employees who remain, and potentially even on-the-job injuries to staff and residents alike.
Our field comes with its own special challenges, and not everyone you hire will stick. But there are things you can do to create an environment that your employees want to be a part of.Hire people with the right attitude. Besides specific job requirements, look for people with an outlook that matches the mission of your organization. Can they deal with sometimes-difficult residents and remain positive? Are they optimistic and caring people? Smiling and “can do” individuals? Skills can be taught, but the right personality is priceless.
Offer benefits beyond competitive pay. Money isn’t everything (although offering competitive wages will help attract higher-quality employees). Benefits like paid time off and healthcare keep staff happy and healthy, which reduces burnout and increases their chances of staying on.
Create a supportive, caring atmosphere. You already do your best to create a true community for your residents. So be sure to extend that sense of community to your staff. Take time to get to know your employees as people. Invest in team-building opportunities. Be understanding and flexible. When employees know their management sees them as more than just an extra pair of hands, they’re more apt to remain.
Invest in development and learning opportunities. Make sure your staff has the training and tools they need to be successful, and also provide continuing education and training so they can grow and improve their skills.
Listen. And listen some more. What do your employees care about? What are their concerns, and what are their ideas? What’s their favorite breakfast food? Listening helps build relationships and has a positive effect on motivation and morale.
Reward, support and encourage. When someone goes above and beyond to be awesome, reward that! It can be a small as a $5 gift card to the local coffee shop, an extra day off or anything that makes employees feel valued.
Your trusted staff helps put the “community” in “senior living community” just as much as your residents do. While there are a lot of factors that are outside your control, creating an environment where staff feels respected, appreciated and listened to is something you can start immediately without spending a dime.