John O’Connor

A long-term care career might sound like an oxymoron. After all, turnover remains ridiculously high at many facilities.

Yet there are outliers to be found. We all know a few veterans who seem to revel in jobs they have occupied for ridiculous lengths of time. And even if they happen to switch employers, they remain in this sector.

Then there are the, ahem, others. They might have started out full of promise and enthusiasm. But along the way, something went terribly wrong.

Some in this group decided to take their talents elsewhere. Others were kneecapped by events beyond their control. A few got on the wrong side of the wrong person. Still others simply ran into bad luck. The list goes on.

Sadly, there is not much I can do for those in long-term care that fate frowned up. But perhaps I can assist some of the new arrivals? How? By answering key questions that can help fuel staying power, and perhaps other rewards.

Q: My boss is either a mean-spirited psycho, an idiot, or both. What should I do?

A: This may sound counter intuitive. But if you’d like to remain with your current employer, your best course of action might be to do nothing. Why? Because if this person is actually as incompetent/mean/psychotic as you imagine, he or she will probably not be around much longer. An added benefit: You won’t risk being fingered as the malcontent who got a “good manager” fired.

Yes, you can take your concerns to HR. If your boss is engaging in behaviors that are clearly over the line, that might be necessary. But if the person is just a jerk, or worse, a jerk with clout, doing battle may not be worth the requisite amount of time, effort or dry powder. Also, don’t make the rookie mistake of assuming HR exists solely for your benefit.

Worst case scenario: You may have to leave.

Q: I was just promoted and need a suit. What color should I go with?

A: As a general rule, darker is usually better. Black never goes out of style, and remains remarkably versatile. Navy blue or gray are also safe bets. By the way, save the funny ties for events involving family and friends. You’re going to work, not a frat-bro wedding.

Q: I finally managed to put away some money. How do I grow it before I blow it?

A: It’s simple, Grasshopper: Save, invest and let the miracle of compounding do its magic.

Looking for better than your bank’s less than 1% annual return? You might want to consider low/no load index funds. Vanguard and Fidelity have some phenomenal offerings here. (Full disclosure: I have personally invested with both firms. Schwab is also a major player here, but I have no experience with it.)

Many people of humble origins have joined the double comma club by sticking with these three indexes: the entire U.S. stock market, the entire worldwide stock market, and the entire U.S. bond market.

Realize that once you start investing (as opposed to saving), risk enters the picture. Some years will be wondeårful. Some will be scary. Just stay the course. Over the long run, you’ll likely be far better off.

Q: So how did you gain these magical insights?

A: The best way possible: The hard way.

John O’Connor is McKnight’s Editorial Director.