It’s no secret that finding and retaining talent is a huge challenge across long-term care these days.

Nor is it much of a mystery why keeping the keepers among them is a good idea. Let’s face it, high turnover can be expensive, inconvenient and harmful to the overall organization. And as McKnight’s reported last week, a new study shows it can put a notable dent on the bottom line.

Investigators found that compared to communities with no turnover, facilities forced to replace one administrator saw a year-over-year 1.14% margin decline. For facilities with two or more defections, the loss was 2.25%.

That may not sound like much in the grand scheme of things. But in long-term care, where profits can be razor thin, every nick hurts.

Not surprisingly, the authors found that losing administrators also can have a detrimental effect in other areas. These include long-term planning, dealing with regulations and resident care.

Full findings appear in the journal Risk Management and Healthcare Policy. 

The investigation was led by Rohit Pradhan, PhD, associate professor at Texas State University. Pradhan and colleagues noted that policymakers should take this risk seriously and consider new ways to help long-term care facilities stem the flow.

That’s certainly good advice. I would add that many operators might want to become a bit more proactive in this area as well.

As to how long-term care organizations can help themselves, let us count three obvious but often overlooked ways:

 •  Offer a competitive salary and benefits

Yes, it takes a special kind of person to work in this field. But even special people need to pay bills and do what’s best for themselves. If your organization isn’t at least keeping up with the herd when it comes to compensation, you’re pretty much asking administrators to consider other options.

•  Create clear expectations

Maybe you do this for the frontline employees. But it’s just as important for administrators to fully understand their duties and how their performance is measured. Setting clear goals and objectives and regularly discussing progress toward those goals not only motivates administrators, it also gives them clear expectations and helps them better understand their role.

•  Invest in their careers

It’s simple, really: Administrators who feel their employers are invested in their career and professional development are more likely to stick around.  These investments also can fuel long-term success, as you’ll gradually nurture and develop leaders who feel committed and motivated for a future with you.

To be sure, these three things may require extra time and funding commitments. So it’s fair to ask whether your organization can afford to do all three. But perhaps a better question to ask is whether your organization can afford not to.

John O’Connor is editorial director for McKnight’s

Opinions expressed in McKnight’s Long-Term Care News columns are not necessarily those of McKnight’s.