By Steve Moran

Most senior living leaders I know are frustrated, burned out, and just plain tired of dealing with staffing challenges. They have also mostly decided they are doing all they can and there is nothing more that can be done until …

  • The economy changes
  • We get immigration reform
  • The world comes to an end …

Leaders end up accepting mediocrity when it comes to all things staffing — agency, operating with vacant positions and with poor attitudes and behaviors. They have just accepted that people don’t want to work, don’t want to work hard, and are for the most part irresponsible.  

And yet … there are communities right now, maybe even in your marketplace, that are fully staffed with good people who love coming to work every day. If you are operating some of those communities you probably don’t need this article. You have probably already asked yourself these five questions. 

Here are five questions that are worth asking yourself and a leader and your organization:

  1. Do you know why your staffing is not where you want it to be? Asking this question requires immense honesty. It is easy to blame the hospital down the street, Amazon, or wages. Maybe a better question would be, what is it that you are doing or not doing that keeps it from being where you want it to be?
  2. Do you know what it would take to get your staffing to where you want it to be? You might think this is really the same as the first question, but it is quite different. This is a dream big question. If you could do anything to fix the problem, what would you do? Then figure out what you can do if you are crazy creative.
  3. Have you become complacent? This is not the same as comfortable; it is unlikely anyone who cares will ever be comfortable, because you know the staffing problem is a ticking time bomb that has the potential to do great damage to residents and to your organization. But have you given up on doing a full court press to find a solution or solutions?
  4. Are you seriously tracking how people are feeling about working for your organization? When was the last time you asked your team how they are doing, what would make their job better, easier? What you could do to lead better? After you do this, report back to the team what you learned and what you changed.
  5. Do you talk openly with your team and even with your residents about your staffing challenges? I know you are cringing at this question. It feels like you are saying to your team and to your residents, “We are not good enough.” Trust me, they already know, and they think it is worse than it is because you are not talking to them. They might in fact have the right ideas to fix the problem. Trust your residents and teams as much as they trust you. 

This is a fixable problem. There are enough people who would love to work in senior living, in your senior living communities. The fix will start when you tackle these questions.