By Steve Moran

There is so much talk about recruitment and retention in senior living. Almost always described as the number one problem senior living leaders face. Except, of course, the problem is more of a retention problem than a recruitment problem.

That is not to say recruiting is not a problem, because it is. But if we could close the backdoor, recruiting would become a much smaller problem, maybe only a tiny problem. A 2018 LinkedIn study indicated “a whopping 93% of employees would stay at a company longer if it invested in their careers”. While anything on LinkedIn is likely to be more indicative of employees higher up the food chain than frontline senior living.


What inspired this article was a blog at Sapling HR, where they made the point that there is a direct correlation between retention and opportunities for team members to grow in their careers. Their blog included a list of ideas for companies to make that happen. Here is my list for senior living, some of which have been borrowed from that Sapling post:

  1. Give Your Team Member a Mentor — Mentoring is a tricky thing. Most people would love to have a mentor, but rarely are people willing to ask for it. Mentoring is a huge opportunity for team members from the frontline to the C-Suite. This can be particularly valuable for team members who are not necessarily wanting to change positions but just want to be better at what they do.
  2. Ask your Team Member to be a Mentor — This is a way to say to a team member “you are really good at what you are doing”. It will also make the mentor better at their job so you get a bonus. I know this works. Many years ago I taught flying and my skills increased like crazy when I started teaching. Just make sure they have enough time to actually do the job.
  3. Special Projects — Look for special projects that team members can work on. They can be solo projects or group projects. They can be simple or complex. But special projects help team members feel special and they make your organization better.
  4. Lunch & Learns — They seem obvious but they are perfect for frontline team members and supervisors. Just make sure the food is good and the education has value. Pro-tip: You might even ask your vendors to sponsor these.
  5. Ask Your Team Members What They Would Like to Learn About — This seems obvious, but I am betting it is one of those things that is a good idea and easy, and because it is so easy it never really gets done. Don’t assume you know.
  6. Then Deliver — If you ask and then don’t deliver, you will have made things worse rather than better.
  7. Ask Your Team Members to Teach Something to the Team — What is cool about this is that it does not even have to be directly work-related. It could be a dance move, a craft activity, or how to create a special food dish.
  8. Make Conferences Valuable — Leaders go to conferences, but how often do they actually come back and transfer the knowledge they gained at those conferences to the team? Baking this into your culture will cause conference attendees to approach the conferences differently. It will make those who didn’t go, feel like they were a part of the process.
  9. Encourage Networking — This might sound crazy but what if you sponsored the formation of a nursing aid networking group in your local marketplace. It would make your care aids feel more important, they would learn new things, and it might even turn into a recruiting tool. Other departments too.
  10. Teach Something New Every Day — What if you set a goal of teaching someone in your organization something new every day? Better yet what if that were a corporate wide leadership goal. It would mean growth for both leaders and teams.

Just pick one, try it out and let us know how it goes. If you are doing other things we would love to hear about that.