Money alone is not the answer.
Securing and retaining staff, keeping them happy and content continues to be a major and very expensive problem in assisted living and long-term care. Despite decades of research and examination, millions of dollars are spent every year when staff members leave a facility. Turnover plagues the industry, found in all positions and in all departments. Average turnover in assisted living and long-term care ranges from 40% to over 100%. Why?
For decades employees in long-term care have identified specific components of their work and environments that they require to be happy and satisfied. Staff has repeatedly told us the same things and what they want has not changed.
Many believe that money and benefits drive staff satisfaction in long-term care. Incentives such as sign-on bonuses, referral bonuses, lump sums for attendance, and being selected as the “employee of the month.” All of these tangible items are helpful, and a competitive salary structures is essential. However, one does not have to be the highest paying facility to recruit and retain staff. You cannot “buy” commitment and loyalty. Unless prodded, money is not on the top of the list for satisfiers.
Employees desire non-tangibles items: respect, appreciation, meaningful work, training and education, involvement in decisions – a “voice,” communication, and caring, nurturing leadership—all of which do not cost anything but time and commitment.
Sense of accomplishment is top on the list. Employees want to be valued, to have meaningful work and know that they are making a difference in the lives of another human being. They come to this profession to serve, to enhance health, ease pain, maximize abilities, and promote happiness. Their ability to do so does not happen by chance.
Respect is also at the top on the list. It seems so little to ask, yet employees lack respect. Employees crave, and deserve, respect from supervisors, managers, administration, leaders, residents, families, and one another. Regardless of position, role or tenure, respect in an exemplary facility is an expectation and foundational for all.
Caring and nurturing leadership is desired by staff as well and is experienced when leadership is passionate and committed to serve. These leaders truly care about maintaining the personhood of all, making the lives of others better and seeing that the needs of others are met. Effective and sincere leaders are available to lend a hand to do whatever it takes to serve another.
Staff want to be trained and educated. They are asking for quality orientation, they want to know what to do, and they want to know why. They desire the ability to be prepared and educated for their work, initially and continuously. Employees enjoy working for organizations in which they continue to learn and grow. A critical component of that training is to communicate organizational standards and expectations for performance. Employees want to know what is expected and strive to conduct their work in a manner that is consistent with organizational desires. Most often, employees want to please those who employ them.
Communication is key, and should be routine, respectful, open, honest and go both ways. When everyone is informed and all voices heard, all activities flow better. Organizational commitment and performance is enhanced when staff has a voice in the organization. Employees want to be informed and included in decisions that are made, particularly those that affect their work. Who knows the best and most efficient means of accomplishing a task than those who are conducting the work? Outcomes improve when employees are informed and included in the decision making process.
Want to decrease your staff turnover? Focus on respect, appreciation, meaningful work and service to others. Create an environment that provides education, opportunities for all to be involved and heard, routine communication and caring leadership.