By Steve Moran

Earlier this week I was watching TV, and a leader, talking to his team, said this:

“You guys are my unsung heroes. The problem is that I am not a singer.”

As I listen to people who work in senior living talk about what their experiences are like, it occurred to me that this is a too common occurrence. People are working to the breaking point and beyond. Early on we saw hero signs and messages everywhere. Not so much anymore, and the ones that do still exist look droopy and time-worn.

Like anything else, they don’t last forever.

Before COVID

Remember before COVID, way back then, there was still a staffing crisis, but not like this. The thing about back then that always puzzled me and continues to puzzle me is that even though leaders and frontline workers were having a positive impact on the lives of residents, their families, and each other, mostly they did not like their jobs very much.

The drumbeat was constant, that they felt overworked, underpaid, and, most importantly, underappreciated. Today, right now with COVID, the working conditions are worse. Short staffing is the norm, as is overtime. Everything is harder.

It is every bit as tough for department heads, executive directors, regional directors, and home office support. It has always been uncomfortable for many to “be the singer.” Today, with even leaders being stretched to the verge of breaking, it is even harder.

Opportunity in Crisis

Early in the pandemic, as difficult as it was, there was a significant amount of comradery that surrounded caring for residents in the face of what was a largely unknown and seemingly impossible monster. Today that sense of comradery is largely gone.

Yet the great opportunity is to capture the stories of impact on residents, families, the community, and team members. Then tell those stories and retell them. Even to the point of them growing into something bigger than life.

These stories remind everyone that they are critically important—that they are leaving an indelible positive impact on the world. They are full to the fire of passion.

Doing this will make retention a million times easier and recruiting much less of a problem. It is your chance to be the senior living version of  In-N-Out Burger instead of McDonald’s or Taco Bell. Yours could be one place where people love coming to work each day. That place that feels like family, and everyone knows they are changing the world.

You can’t even get that at In-N-Out Burger. 

It starts with you stepping up to be the singer.