When you love somebody… they are not going to leave.

By Steve Moran

The other day I published an article titled “Love Thy Employees”, based on an interview I did with Todd Schmiedeler, Senior VP of Employee Services for Trilogy Health Services. We spent essentially the entire conversation talking about some of the really cool things they are doing to build a sense of loyalty among their team members.

The final thing he told me about is something that has the potential to do more for front-line senior living team members than anything I have ever seen. I thought I’d share it with you.

The Challenge

It is an unfortunate reality that most, or at least many, front-line workers in senior living are constantly one paycheck or less away from complete financial disaster. A car breakdown; an appliance that quits working; a death or serious illness in the family; or even a cold winter that spikes heating bills into the hundreds of dollars a month can be a serious disaster.

The Trilogy Safety Net

Many senior living companies have a safety net program for their team members. But, the way Trilogy has set this up is very unique.

They offer emergency assistance grants (up to $1,000) for those experiencing serious illness, loss of family members, etc. In addition, each campus has “campus designated” funds to provide for those things that aren’t covered by emergency assistance.

The Unique Twist

What’s great about it is that the bulk of the funds are contributed by the team members. As management prepares their weekly payroll, they ask each team member, all the way from front-line staff up to corporate staff, to contribute at least $1.00 per paycheck to the fund. They have a participation rate of around 70%. They started with just 69 employees giving. That number is now somewhere between 7,000 and 8,000 employees who, every week, give at least a dollar with some even giving more. Here is why this is such a cool idea:

  1. It means that team members are helping each other; in effect a crowdfunding effort for the family.  

  2. It provides a sense of “we are all in this together,” creating common ground for every single contributing team member.

  3. It makes it much easier for team members to ask for assistance when they need it, because it is, in part, their money.

They have even come up with a catchy name: The One Campaign. The “one” being the $1 they ask employees to consider giving.  

The Net Result

According to Todd’s estimate, turnover at Trilogy has hovered around 39-41% over the last two years — actually the third lowest, nationwide, in their category. But Todd won’t be satisfied until they break 30%.

My question was this:  Is it even possible?

“Yes,” says Todd. “Basically when you love somebody they’re not going to leave you for a quarter,” he says. “Yes, it’s a retention strategy, but it started out as being the right thing to do for our people,” he adds.

On his way to a presentation, Todd left me with a final thought, “As the author, John Maxwell said in one of his laws on marketing ‘It’s good to be better, it’s best to be first.’ But when I say ‘first’, I mean we need to be the first to say we love you, not for what you do, but who you are.”

You can listen to the entire conversation here: