By Steve Moran

A few days ago, Wall Street Journal published an article titled “Employees Speak Out—Against Their CEOs” (paywall warning), where they talk about how more and more employees are pushing hard on their senior management to do the right thing. In some cases, the pressure has resulted in the CEO being forced to step down.

Most often the activism is about working conditions. It got me to wondering what senior living employees would say so I turned to Glassdoor and took a look at the “Advice to Management” for the 5 largest senior living operating companies to see what team members and ex-team members have to say.

Some Observations

Before we get to specific comments, I want to offer some general observations after reading several dozen comments.

  1. It is not all negative 
  2. Often even when they give the work experience a 4- or 5-star rating they still have significant thoughts about what would make things better
  3. Too often there is a sense that management is not honest with team members
  4. Essentially all of the advice is reasonable and doable
  5. The biggest single underlying theme is that employees want to be listened to

Here you go:

  • .Be more professional.
  • Listen to the input from frontline employees. Do not LIE about the wage someone will make.
  • You get what you PAY FOR, duh . . . when you pay for quality employees, you get less turnover, which encourages positivity and value therefore your residents are happier. (Common Sense)
  • Add paid days for mental healthcare.
  • Promote your own
  • Listen to your associates. They’re giving the feedback loud and clear, especially as they walk out the door. The bottom line is important, but without retention of good associates you’ll never hit the numbers — fix what is broken first and then the numbers will take care of themselves.
  • Look for small ways to keep your hourly employees happy (tuition reimbursement, emergency funds, 401K matches of at least 4%, housing aid, paid holidays).
  • Keep doing what you are doing. Empower EDs to manage their communities, stay focused on people first.
  • Try to encourage as much of a “small company” feel as you can to combat the incessant push to subscribe to all of the branded programming. I felt like my job was to just create reports and give feedback on a bunch of tools that weren’t always very helpful.
  • Keep your kitchen fully staffed. Fire employees who don’t show up. Listen to your hardest workers.
  • Make sure that the people who support the management contracts feel as valued as the high flyers in the asset management group.
  • Be honest to your owners and executive directors. It would go a long way. When you demonstrate dishonesty the culture goes downward.
  • Put yourself in the shoes of the population we serve! This will be an eye-opener and a powerful motivator to do your best each day!
  • I certainly feel valued, but it is easy to see how someone with less support may quickly fall off while working with older populations. Make sure that you are supporting and valuing those who work at the community level, it really makes a difference!
  • Solidify one objective before moving to another; spread love to field associates and not just home office.
  • Pay attention to what is actually going on in your buildings instead of sitting in your office. You should care more about your residents.
  • Ha, get new management.
  • Leave before the company is bankrupt.
  • Value all positions.
  • Don’t lie, yearly review they say 3% raise but only 1%
  • Be more upfront instead of carrot dangling.
  • Keep up the good work!!
  • Develop a system to better manage the Regional Team and how they treat the coordinators and EDs. Treat frontline team members with respect and show more appreciation.
  • Listen to resident‘s complaints about the bad leaders. Weed out the employees who don’t do their work and are not kind to the residents.
  • Setup more training modules for housekeepers.
  • Actually investigate things that have been brought up with you guys instead of saying, ‘everything is fine’ and not investigating what has been brought up to your attention.
  • My advice to management would be to value your employees more and stop treating them like they could easily be replaced and are just a number. I also would advise that they value their residents more as well, the residents are the reasons that we even have our jobs. Sometimes I cannot believe the things I have heard and seen go on while working here.
  • Until the current administrator is gone this will continue. Toxic environment!

I am going to end with this last quote “Thank you for your investment in our communities, residents, and future success!” I worry it is so easy to go negative about senior living, our industry. For sure we could all make a long list of what is wong, but I am continually amazed and delighted by the level of passion for what we do.