Retention in Senior Living Care
Turnover in the senior living care industry is very high, at a rate of approximately 35% annually. To counteract that rate, three primary factors that drive employee retention in this industry are providing good compensation plus benefits, providing professional development opportunities, and ensuring that workloads are managed properly. Four metrics that can indicate upcoming turnover in the industry are employees frequently coming late to work or calling off of work, if an employee hasn't received a pay raise within the previous year, job dissatisfaction, and poor management culture.
A. Primary Factors that Drive Employee Retention
1. Good Compensation & Benefits
- A primary factor that drives employee retention in the senior living care industry is providing good compensation plus benefits to employees.
- Hourly wages among the majority of staff members who work in the long-term care industry are "consistently in the bottom quarter of U.S. hourly wages and less than half the national average." The low compensation offered by the senior living care industry has led "many qualified employees to other healthcare outlets."
- A reason behind the low compensation is that the industry has thin margins. Even if companies can't provide competitive compensation, it's advised that they offer good benefits and incentives as a way to boost retention, such as bonuses tied to how long they have worked there.
- By offering higher wages, health benefits, paid time off, and performance bonuses, retention in the senior care living industry can be significantly improved, which "can also improve the quality of candidates needed to fill job vacancies, ultimately reducing turnover."
- Cash bonuses are also a great way to drive employee retention in this industry because approximately just "25% of assisted living residences provide" such to employees. What's more, three years it the average time that an employee has to stay with an employer in this industry in order to receive a retention bonus. The average amount of that bonus was slightly more than $600.
- One senior living company, Stellar Senior Living, took a unique approach to providing compelling compensation to its employees by using a pay service called DailyPay. DailyPay works by recording employees' hourly compensation amounts and allows them to transfer those earnings as pay to themselves whenever they so choose.
- DailyPay provides three retention-related statistics on its homepage that show the effectiveness of its compensation solution: (1) Companies that use DailyPay have experienced an employee turnover reduction decrease of 41%; (2) 73% of workers who use DailyPay reported being "more motivated to come to work;" and (3) "People are 1.9x more likely to apply for a job that pays daily."
2. Proper Workload Management
- A primary factor that drives employee retention in the senior living care industry is properly managing employee workloads.
- The work at senior living care communities is difficult both emotionally and physically. Thus, job burnout is major problem for the industry and actually "is responsible for the bulk of turnovers in the industry." What's more, when staffing shortages occur, employees might be asked to make up for the difference, leading to even further burnout.
- A specific way to properly manage employee workloads is by increasing the number of staff members assigned to each resident. Though a simple step, "[s]tudies have shown that increasing key staff numbers per resident substantially reduces turnover."
3. Professional Development Opportunities
- A primary factor that drives employee retention in the senior living care industry is ensuring that professional development opportunities are offered to employees.
- A lack of career growth opportunities contributes to the turnover rate in this industry. Examples of the lack of such opportunities include employees who might have topped out in their allowable earnings due to a salary cap or are restricted from "expand[ing] their skill sets" for one reason or another.
- Professional development programs are a great way to foster employee retention, as they have been described as a way to tremendously increase employee satisfaction in the industry.
- Examples of professional development opportunities that senior living care companies can implement include discussing career paths with employees, which sends a strong message to employees of their "long-term value," as well as by holding coaching workshops, offering professional growth opportunities both externally and internally, offering supervisory training, and offering feedback to employees through evaluations of their job performance/skills.
- Investments that companies in this industry make in employee training and professional development programs also provide the added benefit of "improv[ing] patient outcomes, as employees understand that" senior leadership values their work.
B. Metrics Indicating Potential, Upcoming Turnover
1. Employees Frequently Coming Late to Work or Calling-Off of Work
- When employees start to consistently call-off of work or arrive to work late, those are signs that they are probably disengaged from their jobs.
- Thus, such patterns are an indicator of their likely exit from the company in the near future.
2. Lack of a Pay Raise Within the Previous Year
- An indicator of upcoming turnover in the senior living care industry is if an employee hasn't received a pay raise within the previous year. If more than that amount of time has elapsed for such, the employee is very likely to start looking for a new job.
3. Low Job Satisfaction
- Though more difficult to gauge than the previous two indicators, low job satisfaction is another indicator of potential, upcoming turnover.
- Job satisfaction within the senior living care industry is largely tied to three elements: (1) If employees have "creat[ed] bonds with residents and [feel they are] helping them achieve the best quality of life possible;" (2) Whether the employee finds the difficult "nature of the job" to be discouraging; and (3) Whether employees are treated well by their employers. If the answer to (1) is "No," to (2) is "Yes," and/or to (3) is "No," an employee is likely to look for a new job.
- Ways that employers can foster employee retention with regard to job satisfaction include offering good balance between work and life to employees, offering flexible scheduling, and promoting the well-being of their employees. Employers who do so can gain an advantage over other employers in terms of retaining employees by showing those employees that they care about them.
4. Poor Management Culture
- Poor management culture is an indicator of impending turnover in the senior living care industry.
- People who work in the senior living and long-term care industries "are more likely to stay with an employer if they have a strong relationship with their manager and feel that he or she understands their daily challenges and triumphs."
- When leadership is not in-tune with their work culture, that can result in large levels of employee turnover. Two simple ways that management can stay in-tune with their employees is by regularly distributing pulse surveys and holding stay interviews. The feedback generated from those measures makes leadership aware of problematic internal issues and also offers them the chance to fix those issues prior to turnover resulting from such.
Your Research Team Applied the Following Strategy:
We categorized the three primary factors that drive employee retention within the senior living industry as "primary factors" because (1) they were each described as such by at least two reputable, U.S.-based sources knowledgeable about the industry and (2) they were the ones we found cited most-often throughout our research. We included information about both the employee retention strategies, as well as the underlying causes behind them, in order to provide a problem-solution framework. We ensured a U.S. focus to our research by only using U.S.-based sources. The metrics indicating impending turnover came from the employment industry source OnShift, Inc. `