There is a general sense that senior living staff turnover rates live in the 50% range for both skilled and assisted living communities. It turns out that while turnover rates are high, they are not quite that bad. Here is what it looks like:

  • According to a 2013 American Health Care Association report, the national turnover rate for skilled nursing facilities was 43.9%. Drilling further into the report, the turnover rate for CNA’s was 51.5%
  • Assisted living looks a bit better. According to a report published by LeadingAge and Health & Healthcare Compensation Service in 2013, the overall turnover rate was 32.4%.
  •  Anecdotally, a lot of really good senior living providers at both levels of care report having turnover rates in excess of 50%.

We all know this is not good for the industry, residents, family members or employees. It is expensive to recruit, retrain and then repeat the process again and again. It makes it almost impossible to build an effective caring culture in your communities.

In practical terms, it means if you have 100 team members in your community, you are having to recruit, and train 2-4 new team members per month just to stay even. Once they are onboard, fully integrating them into your culture will take another 6-12 months. With huge turnover, this time may be extended or maybe it never really happens.

Nurturing Happy Team Members

I recently spent some time talking with Norm Couturier, Chief Product Strategist for iTacit, a Senior Housing Forum partner, about how senior living companies can leverage technology to improve their staff’s work experience and reduce employee turnover.

Norm believes it is possible to significantly reduce staff turnover rates based on seeing real world results over the years. His foundational belief is that every team member wants to do a good job and is doing the best they can. But, given the fragmented structure of many work environments, many staff members don’t feel connected to the mission of their company, and hence, can quickly lose commitment to the value they contribute. He discussed 4 tips on how to start reducing staff turnover:

  1. Hire the right employees – This means hiring first and foremost for attitude and cultural fit. Skills and experience are important, but skills can be taught. You need to find people who buy into the mission and values of your organization. Using a tool like iTacit’s Recruitment module can make the online application process easy for everyone.
  2. Invest in the Onboarding Process –  This means having the right training process and tools in place, something iTacit can help with. Quality, accessible and timely onboarding goes a long way to creating immediate success for new staff.
  3. Continue to Develop Staff Competencies  – This means continuing to provide training and education opportunities for all staff. Many iTacit customers make their entire course catalog available online for all employees – so team members can voluntarily participate in training above and beyond their mandatory in-services. Many workers eagerly take advantage of this opportunity to learn and grow in their role
  4. Engage employees on a daily basis –  This means creating daily touchpoints between staff and the leadership. This process must convey, reinforce and reward your company’s culture and it must be user-friendly. iTacit provides several cloud-based tools to make this easy, such as Performance Management and Communication & Collaboration modules.

Leadership Matters

Although there are many reasons for high employee turnover, a significant factor is the relationship between supervisor and supervisee. As Norm suggests, each of the strategies listed above are helpful, but there is no magic bullet. However, positive, supportive and present leaders can go a long way to helping define and maintain an engaged workforce.  Without this – none of the strategies above will matter.

So, if we want to “sell” our services to the community and attract new residents, we need to spend equal attention focused on increasing employee satisfaction!