Unlock the secrets to creating an engaged staff, and the rewards will come.

By Pam McDonald

One of the top answers to the question, what makes your community better than the competition? is, “It’s our staff . . . our people. They really care.” And, yet research shows that as many as 70% of workers are disengaged – that is, they’re not enthusiastic about what they or their company is doing and they are not committed to the organization. Understanding how to hire and keep the best employees is one of the major challenges for business today, especially for the caregiving senior living industry.

According to Senior Housing Forum partner OnShift, which delivers cloud-based human capital management software for hiring, scheduling, and workforce analysis, it starts by creating a workplace that will both attract and retain today’s workers – an employee-centric culture.

Ready, Set, Engage!

In a new White Paper – “5 Tips to Make Your Workplace Employee-Centric” – OnShift offers suggestions for ensuring that staff members feel valued and vitally important to the community’s success. Engagement starts during the hiring process and continues throughout the day-to-day communications and operations within the community.

OnShift quotes Blair Minton, the president of a firm that develops and manages senior living communities, who said, “Almost anyone with the right attitude can train for competency.” He noted that “engagement starts with the first interview. Look for those who are happy, and excited . . . Is the candidate smiling? Is he or she engaged? Is the body language responsive?”

Create Passion

The organization’s mission should always be kept front and center. Employees should be committed to the mission, which is a sign that they are engaged. “Be passionate about the mission,” Minton advised, “and live up to it.“ He continued, “Make the mission part of every meeting and every interaction . . . so it becomes part of the culture. If [a prospective employee’s] eyes light up and they say it’s something they want to be a part of, those are things that make you think this person is going to fit in.”

Show Compassion

Compassion is an important part of an organization’s culture and understanding employees’ daily challenges goes a long way in creating a culture of compassion. Recognize that employees have hectic lives and are striving for work-life balance.

Providers find success when they consider employees’ shift preferences and can create consistent and predictable schedules. In addition, many senior living organizations have created associate care programs, helping to address their issues with things like flexible paid-time off, financial management assistance, parenting programs and other creative support. As Blair Minton commented: “We believe that you have to treat the employees with the same love, care and compassion we expect them to use to treat the residents.”


Unlock the secrets to creating an engaged staff, and the rewards will come. Senior living providers who drive engagement early and consistently report reduced turnover, financial improvements, better care and service, and increased satisfaction for staff and for residents.

To learn more about employee engagement in senior living, get the whitepaper from OnShift: 

5 Tips to Make Your Senior Living Workplace Employee-Centric