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Building A Senior Living Organization Where Teams Love Coming to Work

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By Steve Moran

The week of Christmas, we tried a new broadcast experiment on a platform called Blab. I invited Dan Levitt of Tabor Village, Lori Alford of Avanti Senior Living, and Denise Scott, a senior living leadership consultant, to join me in a video conversation about how to create a culture where team members love coming to work each and every day.

Here are the questions I asked them:

  • Sometime soon Argentum will put out a report on the current state of senior living as well as their vision for what the industry should/can look like between now and 2025. Based on discussions I have had with James Balda, one of the most important issues senior living operators expect to face is staffing. It is likely to have three components:

    1. Will there be enough people to hire?

    2. How to get new talent / leaders into the industry.

    3. The cost of staffing, which is already around 60% of total operating costs.

Would you agree with this view of the market?  

  • We know that turnover is a huge problem in senior living, at all levels. Do you have a sense as to why that is; What, if anything, can be done about it?

  • I just finished reading Daniel Pink’s book Drive about what motivates team members. I want to hit on a couple things he talks about. Here is the first one:

    He talks about how employee systems are designed assuming that employees will act in bad faith. He then goes on to argue that in most organizations or at least in the marketplace, only about 15% of employees are “bad faith employees,”  meaning 85% are going to come to work every day wanting to support the organization and do a great job.

    Going a layer deeper, he suggests that designing our employment systems for the 15% of bad apples actually turns good workers into bad workers.

    What do you think?

  • What would a system that assumes good faith look like?

  • Mostly when we talk about employee engagement or the lack of it, we tend to focus on the bottom layer of the employment rung: food service, nurses aids, resident care aids, laundry workers. Yet I wonder if that is really the wrong place to be putting our focus.  

    Several months ago I published an articled entitled Brookdale Makes Executive Director’s Lives Easier. The first day it was read probably twice as much as is typical for a first day article. At first I figured that Brookdale had boosted the article internally. When I took a look at my analytics I discovered it wasn’t that. It was just a topic that really resonated with my reader base.

    So I find myself wondering if we need to, in fact, be really focused on improving the lives of EDs, Regionals, and department heads and, if we did that, it would trickle down to the frontline staff.

    Thoughts?

  • How can companies take better care of their leaders?

My final challenge comes straight from Daniel Pink’s book, Drive:

"Each day ask yourself what one thing, that is under your control, will make your work environment a little better?"

Here is the video recording of our Blab:

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