CEO of AHCA/NCAL Advises Employee Satisfaction Critical to Survival

The Honorable Mark Parkinson, President and CEO of AHCA/NCAL knows the importance of staff satisfaction and retention.  During a recent address at the Independent Owner Leadership Conference in San Diego, Parkinson emphasized the importance of enhancing staff satisfaction and retention as a means of staying in business.  He urged owners to focus on an organizational plan to improve staff satisfaction and rid their facilities of any agency utilization.  With the ongoing and pending changes in long-term care regulation and reimbursement, staff stability will be critical to survival.

Parkinson and his team made staff satisfaction in his own organization a priority, focusing on creating a mission based program, and were able to decrease their turnover to less than 20% and increase employee satisfaction to over 90%.  This data echoes the outcomes I shared in my session, “Customer Satisfaction – It is Hurting or Helping Your Business?”  Creating a customer satisfaction program is dependent on staff satisfaction and engagement.  Essential for customer satisfaction is staff providing the “product,” a level of “service” that customer’s desire and long-term care is expected to provide.

High turnover in a facility makes it nearly impossible to create a culture of caring, and thus establish the customer relationships desired.  Turnover destroys the staff ownership and loyalty necessary to satisfy customers or anyone associated with the organization.  In addition, high turnover makes achieving positive results with AHCA/NCAL quality goals or Five Star hopeless, and destroys the possibility of being considered a viable partner in the ever-evolving ACO and managed care world.  As one geriatrician once told me, “The first and most important question I ask in evaluating a long-term care partner is: “What is your staff turnover?”

Programs, processes and systems designed to improve staff satisfaction and engagement must be in place and include a service orientation, shared vision, respect and appreciation, preparation for the work and ongoing education, communication, inclusion and recognition/celebration with even small accomplishments.  Organizational models do exist and can be implemented in any long-term care environment; once implemented it must be monitored and evaluated for their effect/success.

Sustainability is key.  Staff is sick and tired of single initiatives or “programs” that die whenever someone is too busy, the state comes in, is seen to be financially unpopular, or the novelty wears off.   Our research shows that when initiatives come and go staff is more dissatisfied, skeptical and mistrusting than they were before such programs were initiated.

Can you change staff turnover?  Yes, we know you can – we have done it and so has an industry leader and one of your own – Mark Parkinson.  Evaluate your status, build it and stay with it.  Monitor/assess progress regularly and improve as appropriate.  The staff will come, and the staff will then stay.


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