A recent Washington Post article caught me where I live. It wasn’t about the impact of inflation, the  current geopolitical climate in Europe, or the role of microplastics in our food. This article specifically  links job satisfaction to how well we raise our kids. 

I’ve often said that job satisfaction is directly related to whether the boss is a jackass, and I know that’s a little broad. You can have the hardest, most terrifying, most grueling job, mucking out stables or  telemarketing or mining, but if your immediate supervisor is someone who hears you and works with  you without micromanaging you, the job becomes tolerable. 

According to psychologist Maureen Perry Jenkins, “…a job that offers autonomy and support for a parent in a child’s first year of life is linked to better cognitive and social outcomes…for that child six years down the road.” 

It’s not just about the worker. It’s not just about us. Future generations are developing their cognition on the basis of our jobs today. Focusing on the father in this case and especially the lower-income worker, it was discovered that parenting is hard (we know), but it’s harder when we don’t like our jobs. 

According to the literature, job satisfaction in healthcare organizations is related to many factors: optimal work arrangements; the possibility to participate actively in the decision-making process; effective communication among staff and supervisors; and being able to freely express an opinion. Collective problem-solving and the attitude of management are also important to the satisfaction of the employees. Communication among staff and supervisors changes everything. 

We have all had mentors that we emulated and tried to please. But what about the “Anti-Mentor” (which is a word I wish I invented)? That’s the person who has been our most horrible boss. That’s the  person whose life choices have led them to a place you definitely don’t want to be. That’s the boss each  of us has had over our careers more than once. When asked how to be a good boss, I once responded  “Think of the worst boss you ever had. Do the opposite.” Aside: This is also why I’m a stellar mother-in-law. 

Our need to control our facilities requires us to be detail-oriented and focused. Our next annual survey  may be our last annual survey. The next complaint survey may be the one that brings up a whole string  of problems we didn’t know were waiting to be unearthed. The next angry resignation may trigger a list of complaints that culminate in a mass resignation. Ensuring the loyalty of our staff is more than  certificates and pizza parties. It’s offering them autonomy to make the right decisions and knowing you  have their backs when there’s a problem. 

Knowing what we’re learning about how job satisfaction impacts the next generation, how can we  ensure that our staff knows their value and work towards the same goals?

Give employees a sense of purpose, responsibility and growth. We all know our purpose in long-term care. We are here to take care of the most vulnerable and the sickest. But sometimes, our mission becomes a chore, and we go through the motions instead of connecting with our residents. Offer education and support. Offer a means of positive feedback for a job well done. 

Offer respectful relationships and psychological safety. The quality of supervision and support depends  on the comfort level the employee has with their director. Promote social harmony with inclusion and  gratitude. Employees need to know they can be themselves without fear of reprisal and retribution.

Promotion opportunities, pay and equity. Staff loves to hear they did a good job. But back that up with  pay commensurate with their peers. Make sure that your five-year veteran is making more than your  new hire. 

The Washington Post story caught my attention, but the deeper story isn’t just staff retention. It’s how  the treatment of your nurse, your maintenance tech, and your occupational therapist will affect their  families and future employees of future enterprises. Connect with your staff today and help the world  tomorrow.

Jean Wendland Porter, PT, CCI, WCC, CKTP, CDP, TWD, is the regional director of therapy operations at Diversified Health Partners in Ohio.

The opinions expressed in McKnight’s Long-Term Care News guest submissions are the author’s and are not necessarily those of McKnight’s Long-Term Care News or its editors.