By Steve Moran

There is some good news in the senior living sector that gets missed.

  • There are a significant number of senior living communities that have occupancies that are well above 90%.
  • There are senior living communities that are not facing a staffing crisis. They have every position filled, other than perhaps “normal-times turnover,” which occurs even in the most healthy organizations.
  • There are senior living communities that have staff turnover rates that are 30% and below.
  • There are entire multisite senior living organizations where this is true.
  • There are for-profit organizations and organizations that are primarily (or all) monthly rentals where this is true.

The Depressing News

There are also many senior living organizations that have occupancies that are below 80% and with staff turnover over 80%. These same organizations are never fully staffed. This hurts the residents, it hurts the team members, and it makes senior living look terrible to the public.

Worst of all, there are way more organizations and communities that are in the second category than the first.

It does not have to be this way in any organization or community.

What I Don’t Get

What I don’t get is the appeal of mediocre. We see senior living organizations that are really hurting, and that has to be awful for everyone — residents, team members, family members, and the executives and investors. We see the tip of the iceberg when buildings change ownership or operators and there are forced changes in the C-suite.

We also see it in the occupancy numbers of publicly traded senior living organizations that live way below the NIC average occupancy rates.

Yet these organizations keep doing things the same way they always have. Hoping for better results. The quote “Hope is not a strategy” rings so true when I look at mediocre (or worse) senior living organizations.

The Research 

There is research that suggests the reason leaders persist in mediocre ways is often because of overconfidence.

“I was hired to be the CEO, so I must be as good as it gets.”

“I am the CEO, and so that makes me always right.”

“I am the CEO, and if I can’t fix it, no one can.”

It is kind of easy to understand: If I am hired for hundreds of thousands of dollars a year (or millions, in some cases), it must be because I am that good, and if I am that good, then no one could do any better.

All of that translates into a kind of thinking that says, if I change direction, it means I have to admit I was doing it wrong before.

Bottom Line

The bottom line is that leaders don’t change because they don’t want to. It sounds trite, but it is that simple, and they don’t want to change because changing bruises egos.

When Change Happens

There are leaders where this is not true. Netflix is probably the single best public example of this. They figured out that mail-order DVDs were better than going to the video store, and then they figured out that streaming was better than mailing DVDs. Today, even Netflix is facing a new moment where it will need to reinvent once again or lose what they once had, having dropped 50% of its market value in less than 30 days.

If you are leading an organization that is floundering in mediocrity — or worse, flirting with collapse – you have a tremendous opportunity to turn things around. You probably can’t do it yourself. Find someone who can come in and help you figure it out.

Reach out to us. We can help you find the resources you need to be one of those senior living organizations that are fully staffed, at 90% plus occupancy, and with low turnover. A place where team members love coming to work every day.