Cara Silletto

I was on a call with front-line long-term care employees from various companies recently and asked them, “If you had a magic wand, what would you like leaders to do differently at your organization?”

They didn’t say “more perks or parties.” They didn’t say, “Let us work from home.” They didn’t say “opportunities for advancement.”

Want to know what they said?

They said, “Come help us on the floor.” And, “Open your door, literally, so we can come talk to you when we need you.” They asked leaders to “spend a day in our shoes to see what work is really like right now. It’s different.”

Support, my friends! That’s it. They want physical, mental and emotional SUPPORT from their leaders. They’re not getting it right now, and they need it every single day!

One woman on the call has been a CNA for 24 years, and she explained that as the acuity of our residents has risen over time, it’s become more and more difficult to care for the sicker, less mobile patients she serves. She explained that her company doesn’t realize how much harder the job is today than it used to be, as staff continue to be asked to “do more with less.” But they can’t. 

When I posted about this concern on LinkedIn, RN Cheryl Martin shared this response:

“Staff want to know they are supported. They want to know you SEE them, what they do, their effort, and their obstacles. And they want to know you are in it WITH them. The best way to do that is to get out there with them, appreciate your team, acknowledge their hard work, give them the tools they need to be efficient, and give them the staffing counterparts that make it possible.”

The employees explained how each of their bosses is in meetings all day or is sitting behind their desks too much. The staff said their leaders are unavailable when they really need them.

It’s difficult for everyone at work right now, and I know you have too much on your plate. You’re expected to be at those meetings. You’re expected to respond to all those emails. But if your organization is serious about its need to reduce employee turnover, the company can no longer neglect the basic needs of team members. It’s time to provide more hands-on, face-to-face support. And to put it in our calendars.

The participants on the call asked that managers not just say, “Hey, there’s a call light you need to answer,” but instead, go answer the call light yourself.

One employee said their organization had required all staff, even executives, to become CNA certified, so they could help with caregiving when staffing is tight. Another person on the call, who happened to be the only department director joining the discussion, said she requires all her supervisors and managers to be on the floor during mealtimes to support the CNAs because they need “all hands on deck.” 

Is your entire leadership team jumping in each day to serve at the bedside, or are you scheduling another meeting to discuss the staffing issues?

Okay, now’s the time to stop reading this and get out on the floor — good luck!

Workforce thought leader Cara Silletto, MBA, CSP, works with organizations of all sizes to reduce unnecessary employee turnover by bridging generational gaps and making managers more effective in their roles. She is the author of the book, Staying Power: Why Your Employees Leave & How to Keep Them Longer.

The opinions expressed in McKnight’s Long-Term Care News guest submissions are the author’s and are not necessarily those of McKnight’s Long-Term Care News or its editors.