As qualified employees become scarce, what actions can be taken today to ensure stability and continuity of frontline staff for tomorrow?

Senior care is one of the most challenging industries there is. With jobs ranging from health care to dining services to administration, the field requires special people with exceptional skills.  As baby boomers retire, and the senior population surges, communities are suddenly faced with a potential workforce crisis: how to attract and retain employees in a competitive industry that demands superior customer service.

The answer, in part, starts with pre-checking the integrity, ethics, capabilities, and work ethics of future potential employees.

Mary’s Woods is home to more than 450 residents, and over 300 employees, and, with the help of Insight Worldwide, their community’s hiring standards and retention rates have increased dramatically.

“Insight Worldwide has helped us to make better choices with more information and the ability to target questionable behaviors with interview questions designed with specific purpose,” said Lynne Michaelson, Director of Human Resources at Mary’s Woods. “Using it consistently, we dropped our turnover by 10 points in the first year of implementation.”

Like all senior living communities, Mary’s Woods is a complex organization. Hiring and retaining a sizable workforce to serve its residents, with an emphasis on providing the best customer service possible, is always on the leadership team’s radar.

“Once we identify and hire the best talent, we want these employees to look at Mary’s Woods as a place where they can launch a long-term career,” said Mary’s Woods CEO Diane Hood, CPA. “This includes creating an environment where employees can flourish financially and creatively with options that develop their career trajectory.”

At senior living communities, most residents create friendships with employees that are similar to relationships they might have with family members. These friendships build the kind of consistency that is necessary and important to residents who depend on employees for a high-quality of life. Whether it was a food server who remembered little details about how a resident liked their meal prepared, a cheerful concierge who always went out of their way to make a resident comfortable, or a yoga instructor who somehow made a resident’s back pain go away, the loss of talented employees works against a community’s vision, and importantly, its bottom-line.

“Employee turnover is costly for an organization like ours for several reasons,” added Michaelson. “From a financial standpoint, the costs involved in hiring and retraining an employee can be quite high; not to mention the shortfalls it causes in organizational performance. Additionally, the emotional cost of a resident who suddenly loses a favorite employee is immeasurable.”

To address this problem, Mary’s Woods has created a direct line of communication between the CEO and HR. The goal of this endeavor is to identify the priority needs of an employee and how the organization can move in a direction to meet them. “It’s like a marriage,” said Hood. “A close relationship between HR and the CEO strengthens communications. This effort results in timely decision making that affects the organization’s ability to hire and retain all-star caliber employees. At the same time, it satisfies the expectations of our resident population who demand top-level customer service.”

Contribution to this blog made by Mary’s Woods.