James M. Berklan, Editor
James M. Berklan

When we surveyed long-term care leaders this spring to learn about the “Mood of the Market,” we found strong currents of gratification and pride.

Administrators and nurses alike said their work was meaningful, the pay was generally OK and they did not feel micromanaged. All good signs.

But they also are clearly looking for more. More support from bosses, more opportunities and more time. Nearly one-third said they had seriously considered quitting their job in the previous three months.

That’s why raising job and workplace satisfaction levels should be near or at the top of every long-term care operators’ to-do list. With a roaring economy and record lows in overall unemployment, keeping the good managers you have is more important than ever.

So with recruiter calls and other enticements potentially on the other end of every telephone ring, what’s a determined provider to do? Listen to his or her current employees, of course.

The 2019 McKnight’s Mood of the Market Survey asked what one change would “most improve your job satisfaction”? And at the top of the list was … NOT “higher salary.” I had heard consultants before say that would be the case, but I wasn’t quite sure I believe them. Until I saw these results.

Our digital survey of 250 long-term care administrators and nurse leaders found that “more training or learning opportunities” was their No. 1 desire (20.5%). “Higher salary” (17%) was next, followed by “more paid time off” (13.4%), “a shorter commute” (9.1%) and “a more flexible schedule” (6.7%).

Mood of the Market chart

What came next surprised the employment and compensation experts we talked to for this article: “A new boss” was the pick of only 5.9% of the respondents. Various industries’ surveys have shown that “workers don’t quit jobs, they quit a boss,” so the less-than-6% response rate was an eye-opener. 

That’s not to say LTC bosses are off the hook. In other survey questions, there were significant signs of lack of confidence in supervisors’ abilities to help respondents’ future opportunities and technical education.

(It should be noted that the “other” response option actually drew the highest return rate at 26.5%, but some answers duplicated other options already offered, and nothing trumped the top categories above. “More respect” was mentioned most often among these “write-in” wishes, which is another teaching point for top managers.)

So there you have it. Want to beat your competition in pursuit for the best employees, and keep your current ones away from the recruiting jackals? Offer them education and training — and then remind them that not everybody’s getting it. Keep salaries reasonable (and, of course, rising when possible). 

But also note that considerations for “time” — as in more time off and more flexible scheduling — are going to earn you employer “brownie points.” And if there’s anything you can do to make their commute easier — perhaps transportation credits or a shuttle service of some kind — that would be icing on the cake.

Brownies and cake. Hmmmm, could be two of the delights you serve at a party celebrating staff satisfaction.

Follow Editor James M. Berklan @JimBerklan