Your staff and caregivers serve as your clients’ first impression of your senior living community. Therefore, a stable staff is essential for promoting continuity. Historically low unemployment and rising labor costs, though, are two factors making staff retention a major issue for many senior living industry professionals. In fact, in a recent article, Kisco Senior Living CEO Andy Kohlberg called the current labor environment the toughest he’s seen in 30 years.
But new research may reveal a solution. A 2019 study by LCS (Life Care Services) and senior living research firm Holleran Consulting found that, over a six-month period, employees who felt their work “makes a difference” were 34% more likely to stay with their company, and those who were positively recognized for their work were 23% more likely to stay on over six months.
One way you can improve retention rates among your staff is to expand your marketing strategy in a way that emphasizes the positive news of your community, residents and staff. By doing so, you boost morale — and recruitment and retention of staff who care about being part of a winning team. Here’s how:
Offer employee perks that appeal to millennial job-hunters
Senior living operators are competing against every other industry out there in the quest to recruit and retain millennial workers — the generation born between 1981 and 1996 — who continue to enter the workforce in large numbers. Providing desirable employee perks can help distinguish you among the hordes of companies clambering for millennial job-seekers’ attention.
According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, three out of four millennials say work-life balance drives their career choices, so show your staff how much you care by offering more flexible hours or a greater variety of shift lengths, and allowing staff to use work amenities like the pool or fitness center during certain hours. Another great perk is setting up a table in the break room stocked with healthy food and drinks, plus everyday essentials like toothbrushes and soap.
Finally, make sure to highlight these perks in every job description you post, and do so on highly trafficked social platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn and popular job sites like Indeed, where digital-savvy millennials are more likely to see them.
Engage employees in community activities
Community relations is another aspect of marketing, and group participation in charitable causes is a great way to contribute to team building. Try having your entire staff participate in local events like an Alzheimer’s awareness walk or a food drive for the holidays. You can even create your own, like an employee talent show to raise money for special causes.
Group participation in local events also helps create positive relationships between supervisors and coworkers, which is another major factor in staff retention. Many of the caregivers on your staff are already the type of people who like to give back, so supporting charitable causes as a group can build team spirit. To draw more positive attention, promote your efforts on your social media accounts, reach out to local news outlets and encourage employees to post about these events online.
Increase your news coverage
When your community is featured in news articles, TV coverage or even tweets by local influencers, your staff gains a sense of pride knowing the public is aware of their work. If you want to see more media pickup, reach out to invite local reporters before special events or solicit post-event media coverage.
You can also periodically send out press releases with news about staff achievements and promotions, and even coverage of residents for their hobbies, anniversaries or special achievements can bolster the overall attitude of a community. Get started by creating a media list, putting together a press kit, designating a spokesperson and making sure to engage with reporters before, during and after newsworthy events. They can’t cover everything, so be selective, persistent and realistic.
Overhaul your staff training program
It’s important to encourage your staff to view caregiving as a legitimate career path with exciting prospects ahead. Identify and clearly articulate the steps employees need to take to become a manager or administrator one day, then tailor your employee training programs to align with that career trajectory.
Another way to promote this idea is subsidizing employee participation in local caregiver seminars, skills training and certification classes. Research also shows that millennials tend to view their managers as mentors and coaches, so try developing a mentoring program that pairs lower level staff with more experienced employees to offer career support.
A better marketing plan = less stress on staff
Better inbound marketing generates more leads, creating a full and vibrant resident community and a more positive atmosphere on campus. All of this serves to reduce stress among your staff.
When business is good, there is less overall pressure on employees, creating space for them to enjoy their job, their free time and their coworkers more. Isn’t it convenient that building your business and generating new leads helps decrease your staff’s stress?
Create a healthy work culture through employee recognition
Finally, the obvious: publicly recognizing employees for a job well done is the easiest and simplest way for senior living operators to boost staff retention. You can create a healthy culture of employee recognition and appreciation through internal communications like your staff newsletter, your company emails and even the posters in the break room. Staff buy-in happens when employees feel you respect them enough to communicate openly, so use those same communication channels to notify employees of important organizational changes in a timely manner.
Companies in other business sectors, including used car sales company CarMax, have also found that developing and recognizing employees leads to better staff retention and recruitment. According to CEO Tom Folliard, CarMax maintains a healthy retention rate by offering superior staff training programs; encouraging employees to share their ideas about improving the customer experience; and rewarding those ideas through employee recognition programs.
For senior living operators, it’s important to make sure all your internal communications reflect that you both acknowledge and appreciate your staff. Let your employees know you’re on their side, and they’ll be on yours, too.
Can we help you with media coverage, staff communications or another marketing challenge? Call us at (303) 499-9291 or email us at [email protected].