Comfort pays big dividends in attracting talent, too

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Greg Snoddy
Greg Snoddy

Advances in medical treatments and technology have led to longer lifespans for seniors, meaning they now require more care to stay well longer. Unfortunately, as that population ages, so has the workforce.

The long-term care industry is faced with a dwindling workforce and is struggling to attract and retain new talent. How do senior care facilities create an appealing workplace environment for millennials — the next generation of healthcare professionals?

Fortunately for senior care leadership, the business world at large has invested heavily in identifying ways to do a better job of engaging millennials in the workforce. A key finding: To improve communication with this generation, organizations have to do a better job of understanding their motivation.

Curate a mission-driven environment to foster loyalty and improve retention.

The article “Why Millennials Care About Purpose Driven Businesses,” suggests that a drive for authenticity, truth and transparency are primary factors in the decision to work with or for a business. This is a generation that is attracted to organizations who clearly state their vision and practice what they preach at every level of the organization. They are seeking purpose-driven organizations that can point to a positive outcome for everyone involved — from leadership to employees to customers.

To summarize an HR.com article about motivating the millennial generation, clearly communicating your organization's mission or vision will unify your staff. Once your team understands how they are contributing to the overall company vision, they will be excited to work toward a common goal, and motivated to help the organization succeed.

How does a mission-driven workforce impact cost?

Senior care isn't the only industry striving to attract talent, and as a result, the connection between a motivated, inspired workforce and productivity has been documented frequently over the last few years. According to the Harvard Business Review, inspiring employees pays for itself in returns on productivity.

Promoting a company culture with a shared vision not only improves the productivity of your staff, it can help to attract new employees with the same goals, and can even increase retention of dedicated employees. The results of a study conducted through LinkedIn concluded that “employees who feel like their work creates positive impact are more likely to feel fulfilled, promote their company and stay on the job longer.”

Invest in a company culture that celebrates and communicates a common vision, and you'll reduce costs incurred when your facility is short staffed. Reduced staff can impact the quality of care, which in turn can impact your 5-Star rating. To avert staffing issues impacting your reimbursements, start reframing your mission or company vision — your “brand” — so that it is clearly communicated, internally and externally.

Now that we've covered why focusing on a shared vision is relevant, and how it will benefit your organization, one question remains:

How can senior care community organizations demonstrate they are mission driven?

This is a simple answer that comes back to the core of what your organization does: Provide the highest quality of care to your residents. Better care starts with safety and comfort, so here are a few ways improving safety and comfort for your residents and your staff reflect whether your organization is “purposeful” or driven by your mission for quality care.

Adopt policies that reinforce unity and brand loyalty.

Millennials believe in teams and teamwork. One way to demonstrate unity among your team to prospective hires is to provide a unified front, literally. Adopting a staff identification program through uniforms creates visual cohesion for your brand that is clearly communicated to every staff member, resident and visitor.

Additionally, providing your current employees with uniforms sends them the message that they play a vital role within your facility and that all employees are equally important to your residents' experiences. Employees who wear the same uniform often feel a kinship with one another. Unity engages employees and builds a bond between co-workers, which can lead to a more energized, focused team of employees excited to provide care for your residents.

A good uniform program is developed around comfort. When people feel comfortable, they produce more at work, so if you're implementing a staff identification program, you need to ensure that your staff feel at ease in the apparel you're providing. A coordinated, communicative and productive staff translates to well cared for residents.

Demonstrate a commitment to safety through carefully chosen products and protocols.

Showing that you care about the wellbeing of employees and empowering them to work efficiently and safely is crucial in a senior care facility's effort to attract and retain talent.

There are many ways to ensure employee safety and reduce injury risk, including maintaining safety protocols and ensuring proper employee training. However, you also can implement specific caregiving tools, including patient transfer solutions to reduce back injuries or environmental cleaning solutions that reduce cross-contamination, among others. A safe staff is a staff that feels protected and cared for, just as your residents do.

A shared vision mission and purpose unites your team.

What is the vision for your senior care organization? What is your brand? Is it clearly communicated to your staff at every level of the organization? Do you showcase your dedication to improving the lives of your residents through better care? If your mission to provide excellent quality care for your residents is not clearly communicated at every level of your organization and in all your hiring materials, your staffing efforts could fall short of your goals. Remember, a brand is what people say about you when you're not in the room. Is your organization doing enough to ensure that its brand is positive, consistent and appealing?

As competition in the senior living landscape increases and the existing workforce ages, every facility is faced with the challenge of differentiating themselves to attract and retain talent. By adopting policies, processes and products that demonstrate your commitment to your residents' care, comfort and safety, you'll be more successful in attracting mission-driven talent.

Greg Snoddy is the Vice President of Healthcare Sales-Senior Living for Encompass Group. He can be reached at greg.snoddy@encompassgroup.net.

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