There is an old saying that employees leave the manager and not the job. Though cliche, has merit in most industries and the senior living industry is no exception. The senior living industry has been dealing with a workforce crisis for the last few years, especially when it comes to the frontline workers.
According to a Gallup study in 2015, that surveyed 7000 people, around 50% of them had left their jobs to get away from their manager at some point during their working career.
In an attempt to overcome this staffing issue, there are a lot of senior living providers that are providing special training to their managers in various ways to stop having high turnover rates. These methods have ranged from teaching soft skills that can help to forge a better connection with the workers to tracking data much differently to show turnover for certain managers.
Based on recent data that came from Activated Insights, the research firm that is behind the survey called Great Place to Work for senior service providers, the senior living industry is one that happens to struggle with high voluntary termination percentages for the frontline workers. More so, than any other companies within similar service industries.
The rate for departure for full-time frontline employees in senior housing is at 29%, based on the responses from the areas that were surveyed by Activated Insights. That is much higher than the retail and hotel industry, which had an 18% departure rate. It is even higher than the turnover rates that are seen for grocery stores at 13% and hospitals at 10% based on the data that was provided by Activated Insights Great Place to Work survey.
However, the stakes that come with reducing the turnover rates are high. The senior living industry has employed over 890,000 people for 2016 alone, and that is information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which was shared by Argentum. However, this sector is going to have to recruit then retain around 300,000 more people by 2026 to be able to avoid any huge staffing shortage.
Soft Skill Building
Managers can build better relationships with the people whom they lead by learning to communicate better. Communication dynamics between generations have become increasing more complex and developing effective communication skill sets takes practice.
A good example of a company focusing on a developing better communication from an organizational perspective is is a senior living company called Heritage. Heritage has 13 communities in Arizona, Iowa, and Nebraska, and three in development to be opened next year. The company has an “inverted triangle” for an organizational chart, with executive directors at the top of this chart at the corporate level and frontline employees at the top level of the community.
Heritage regularly brings speakers and literature to teach employees about soft skills. The idea is that if these managers can communicate better, they can get along better with the employees and, in return, build relationships that can help reduce sales. This is important because managers are often promoted or hired because of their technical skills and not always because of their effectiveness in communication.
Heritage is not the only senior housing provider who values building relationships between managers and employees at the forefront. Seasons Living, an Oregon-based company with 15 congregations in six states, helps its leaders develop their social skills by working with National Seminars Training.
Seasons offers small seminars through the company’s training company’s “Star12” program. The duration of the workshop ranges from five minutes of advice to an hour of webinars, covering topics including leadership skills, communication, time management, and job authorization.
Seasons also seeks to unite managers with those of sister communities so that they can connect with each other, a key step in making leaders feel more empowered.
Seasons turnover rates typically range from 22% to 28%. Currently, this percentage is 26%.
In the Acts retirement community, nearly 1,000 employees currently participate in the company’s training and development department, Acts Corporate University. Through internal learning initiatives, employees can improve their cultural diversity, conflict resolution, customer service, public speaking, and business writing skills.
The organization also provides employees with four-hour new manager training courses every quarter and organizes management seminars once a month. Keeping turnover low is important to provide the best service to residents, which is what drives most communities. They want to ensure that each supervisor makes a difference to their employees.
Learning from Turnover Rates
Even though senior living providers can do what they can to help stop having high turnover rates, they are not able to eliminate them. However, turnover can provide the facilities with a learning opportunity that can properly analyze it, and when it is analyzed, it can help to target support or remediation that is related to the managers that happen to be driving workers away.
For example, whenever someone leaves at Heritage, the company has an exit interview to learn more about why they decided to leave.
These interviews are important to separate small forms of turnover, such as employees going back to school from the negative turnover like the employee leaving to work for a competitor.
However, in recognition of the role that a supervisor plays in preventing or driving turnover, Heritage has made a change in the way that it collects data for the next year. Starting in the first quarter of 2020, they will start to track turnover based on the managers.
The provider also will start to track the employment status to find out why an employee has left their company.
Acts also started to track their turnover by department and community with the goal of being able to solve any problems as they turn up. Seasons happen to track each community to find out the performance and find out where more support is needed.
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