“Our employees are our greatest asset.”
How often have I heard that or a similar claim over the years? Dozens of times? More than 50? Frankly, I’ve lost count.
The funny thing is, I’m sure the speaker fully believed it at the time. And with good reason.
It makes sense to think and speak highly of one’s staff. On the front lines, they literally do the heavy lifting. These are the folks asked to come in and cover for no-shows, often at the last minute.
They make sure the facility’s practices and paperwork are up to code – and that the organization receives every Medicare and Medicaid dollar that has been earned.
They are the ambassadors, telling your story to potential residents and their stressed out loved ones.
They are the people putting in unforgiving hours, often on nights, weekends and holidays. In short, they keep the place going.
As assets go, they are indeed quite valuable.
And many organizations do back the “greatest asset” claim with actions. They do so by offering competitive wages, benefits, training, career advancement and above all, a positive working environment.
These facilities are not hard to find. They are where you’ll see employees who have been on the job for decades. They are where staffers bring family members to the facility (pre-COVID, of course). They are the places some people like to stick around after their shift ends, just to chat.
Sadly, they are in the minority.
The places where workers are not truly regarded as so valuable are also easy to spot. They seem to have new faces in every position, year after year. They are where unionization efforts pose a real threat — and are fought by any means necessary. They treat a raise measured in a fraction of a dollar as a monumental concession.
There are 15,000 skilled care facilities in this country, give or take. No two are exactly the same. Some are wonderful. Others are anything but. That’s the nature of business, I suppose. And I’m fine with variety.
But I have never had much taste for hypocrisy, no matter how pleasantly it’s served. Such as when people who run places that would give kennels a bad name rave about their wonderful employees.
As the saying goes in Texas, they’re all hat, no cattle. It would be far better if they simply said nothing at all.
John O’Connor is Editorial Director for McKnight’s