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My Head is Going to Explode! 70+% Turnover for Some Frontline Staff?

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By Steve Moran

It is articles like this that I hate writing because it makes me feel like I am a Negative Nelly . . . or being critical of this industry segment that I love. But this needs talking about . . . so here we go.

At Argentum recently, during the introduction of Marcus Buckingham, Mark Woodka the president of OnShift talked a couple of minutes about an effort they and Argentum are partnered in -- examining turnover rates in senior living.  

He tossed out a single finding (technically a preliminary finding, I think). That for some frontline positions the turnover rate is 72%. I have reached out to OnShift to see if I can get more detail on this number, but as of this writing, they have not responded.   

I would also note that maybe . . . if it is servers, it would be less bad . . . assuming they're likely to be students.

No Shock

What was more disturbing was that there was no collective gasp of shock in the audience. This is not good. We are not fast food where a good or bad meal does not really have any impact on people's lives. It is impossible to provide great service, to build real relationships with this kind of turnover.

Making It Worse

As is appropriate and right, this Argentum conference was largely a celebration of what is good and noble and aspirational about the senior living industry. The hero’s awards were a series of stories about senior living professionals accomplishing extraordinary things in the lives of others.

It was all about “We are great.” Except that . . .

How can we be great if we have segments of our workforce that turnover at a rate of 72% a year?

Facing A Harsh Reality

It is a ton better to celebrate the cool stuff of what we do, but it is not honestly a great way to get better. We need to do two things:

  1. We need to acknowledge that in too many cases we are letting our residents and our team members down when we have statistics like this.

  1. Then -- and this is the positive part -- we need to seek out those organizations and individuals who are getting it right and learn from them.

Wouldn’t it be cool, if next year someone got on stage and said . . . "Let's celebrate us because we have an industry frontline turnover of 20%. Let’s celebrate because 20 of the top 100 best places to work on Glass Door are senior living organizations.

Just thinking about it makes me already look forward to next year's conference. 

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