Senior GuidePost (‘SGP’) is managed by a group of senior living owners, operators and developers who are actively engaged in the senior living industry. All managing partners also play an active role in community operations, allowing for a level of engagement with residents and staff on a daily basis. Because of this, the Senior GuidePost team is able to provide a better perspective on what actually happens in senior communities, a perspective that they bring to their respective roles and Knowledge Center articles.
Staffing, the Workplace Environment and Employee Retention
On Thanksgiving, the Senior GuidePost team gathered to focus on the people for which the team is very thankful, the employees within the senior communities that we own, operate and manage. In many cases, direct care staff earn a modest wage and are expected to live and work with passion, and most do an exceptional job, especially taking into account their personal circumstances.
One member of the GuidePost management team recounted a story of a very highly thought of CNA that, after more than a year of work, management discovered that they rode the bus almost two hours each way to get to their job in a Houston, TX area assisted living community. Although the community did not have the budget to make a material impact on the staff member’s financial situation, they became even more committed to making the work experience better for that team member through improved communications, and a renewed focus on what is important to employees.
The most critical issue to our senior management team in today’s environment is finding and keeping staff. For this post, the SGP team put together a list of focus points for 2018 that will allow the communities under ownership to renew their focus on the health of the workforce, a direct impact on the health of their residents. The following bullet points are select notes taken from the gathering reflecting opportunities for improvement. In many cases, the executives that played a role in the discussion believed that these programs were being executed within their communities, however after further review, they realized that the execution of the programs needed dramatic improvement.
2018 Focus Points
- Regular performance reviews – The SGP team is committed to building a two-way formal process for all employees to allow them to understand the communities’ expectations of them and their performance relative to those expectations. Additionally, the team will build a format through which the employee can help set the goals of the community itself and the role that they play in achieving those goals.
- Recognition programs – Over the last 20 years, the management team has experimented with a variety of employee recognition programs, with varying, yet mostly disappointing, degrees of success. Although financial rewards are necessary to help supplement income for high performing employees. In 2018, the team is planning to build out formal recognition programs that provide non-financial based incentive and that incorporates residents and families as stakeholders.
- Exit Surveys – The team is committed to building an exit survey program to replace the current exit interview process that most of the communities utilize. The intent of an online survey is to improve participation and candid feedback from employees that have recently left their positions in the community. The process will be managed at the corporate level, in order to remove the executive director from the conversation, with the intent of eliminating personal feelings and defensiveness. Executive Management understands that feedback provided by exiting employees may not be completely truthful and colored through the lens of someone that is no longer with the company. The hope would be to receive the occasional piece of actionable information regarding the community’s work environment, and receive feedback directly through this channel as opposed to public social media or online review channels.
In each case, the team is determined not only to being intentional in implementing these ideas, but to build a set of measurable goals that will allow them to know what success means in each endeavor. The team believes that building programs that clearly communicate expectations, rewards top performers and builds a culture of candid and healthy feedback will continue to build a healthy environment that focuses on resident care above all.