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Let's Face Down Our Competition -- for Talent

JacquelynKung's picture

By Jacquelyn Kung

Has anyone noticed Wall Street Journal's series of articles showcasing what employers are doing to be competitive for talent? On New Year's Day, they highlighted how Disney, Taco Bell, and others are providing college degree benefits . . . yes, college degrees!

I mean, for a conservative financial newspaper to be reporting on this topic, it must mean something. 

I'm lucky to sit in the middle of an office at Great Place to Work, where I see and hear what companies are doing. It's fierce out there, folks. Attracting and retaining talent is NOT an issue isolated to our sector. 

Hospitals, restaurants, hotels, and a bunch of other service industries are fighting tooth-and-nail to attract and keep the right people. Big chicken manufacturers in the middle of the country, airlines who are merging together, big mission-driven educational nonprofits . . . they are all wanting to be a better place to work. Why? Because it's better for business.

What does it take for us to compete?

Let's break it down:

  1. Making sure our fundamentals are presented right.

    The basis to compete is that we have the right set of tools: competitive wages and benefits, mobile-compatible career websites, and ways to differentiate ourselves on job boards such as ZipRecruiter, Indeed, and others. You'd be surprised how many national, regional, and local providers do not have all three bases covered yet.
  2. Listen and respond . . . genuinely and thoroughly.

    We say we listen. We say we respond. But having sat in C-Suite meetings for the better part of the last 16 months talking about this topic, it never fails to surprise me how many CEOs and COOs have NOT read all of their employee comments, which can be delivered to them in a neat little packet. Saying we hold listening sessions is one thing, but if you know about the DISC personality test, you'll know that you're likely only hearing from the "D" personality types in your company. Instead, you need to survey your employees in a confidential way -- then listen/read what is said and respond in an authentic way.

    To get a competitive edge, we must go much deeper. For instance, we have uncovered that across senior living communities, one of the highest correlations to employee engagement for Baby Boomers is that they perceive their managers to have integrity and deliver on their promises. Millennials and Gen Z, on the other hand, seek greater energy from camaraderie. 

    Moreover, within different levels of care, we can nurture our workforce in different ways. For instance, those who work in memory care and SNFs get emotionally drained when they see residents they love pass away. The happiest employees see their coworkers as a family away from home. 

    So, how do we respond to these deeper concerns? Answer: we must nurture leaders and teach leadership. This involves communicating with heart, with frequency, and with clarity.
  3. Shining; being bright about the ways we shine.

    Do we know how we as a sector are different -- and better -- as a place to work? We have uniqueness that no other sector brings. 

    The #1 favorite thing that our employees say they love about working in senior living is the residents. Hands down, according to over 200,000 employees who answered our survey. How do we bring more of that into everyday being? One provider has a brilliant cultural norm  -- requiring every employee to spend at least 2 minutes with a resident talking. It's harder than it sounds: with fire drills going on left and right in operations, finding those precious 2 minutes for a real conversation can be tough. Especially if it's not ingrained into the cultural fabric. Another provider makes their dining hall available for employee weddings -- and residents love to attend weddings of their favorite employees. What better ways to celebrate and shine can we offer?

The Competitive Edge

So what does this all mean? We need to be ensuring that we compete with the basics. And, with listening and responding. Lastly, we need to be outshining our competition. (We also need to know what they are doing and plan an offensive . .. more on this in a future article.)

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