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Staff Retention in Long-Term Care: 5 Ways to Build Teams that Stay

Updated: Oct 13, 2021

A recent survey conducted by AHCA found that 94% of all nursing homes are short-staffed – with 73% saying their organization's overall workforce situation is worse when compared to 2020. Employee turnover rates in the healthcare industry as a whole are at an all-time high; those in the long-term care sector are astonishing. This year, an analysis published in the journal Health Affairs cited nursing home turnover at a median rate of more than 100% for direct care workers alone.

Turnover is expensive. The rule of thumb is that the cost of replacing an employee is 25% of their salary. Leading Age, a non-profit organization supporting aging and the industry that serves the aging, cited that the total direct and indirect cost to replace a direct care worker equals about $4,500. This means that an operator of just one facility with 100 direct care workers could be looking at $450,000 a year in direct care turnover costs alone.

Turnover can lead to significant problems for operators, impacting finances and resident care. So, what can skilled nursing and long-term care facilities do to build teams that stay?

Employee engagement and recognition can significantly improve retention rates. Implementing an employee recognition program will improve employee morale and the overall quality of care for your patients. The employee first culture matters.

All workers share basic needs that leaders must address to reduce turnover rates.

1. Motivation, Purpose, and Recognition: Compensation matters, but workers are more motivated by mission and meaning. People need purpose and want to be recognized and appreciated for a job well done. Recognition is not only for big accomplishments like exceeding targets but also for encouragement for improvement.

2. Development Opportunity: Today's employees crave growth and development, and they expect their workplaces to provide ongoing opportunities to learn and grow. Upskilling and promoting within show employees they are valued.

3. Tools for Success: Giving employees the tools they need to work efficiently is important for retention. Employees that spend too much time on manual tasks are frustrated and can become discouraged quickly. Talk to leadership and facility staff and evaluate processes regularly and make sure there are tools in place to solve inefficiencies. Evaluate the tools that are in place and get feedback from teams. Do they make employees' jobs easier?

3. Coaching: Modern workers don't want bosses. They want coaches, managers who create authentic relationships and offer individualized development. Take the time to build an open line of communication and get feedback at all levels.

4. Support and Open Communication: Annual performance reviews are outdated and unmotivating. Consistent feedback on an ongoing basis helps employees hone their skills. Support your employees, listen, and do what you can to improve their quality of life. Do we need to implement more flexible scheduling? Do we understand the individual needs of our employees?

5. Strengths and Culture: Managers who emphasize overcoming weaknesses won't inspire employees. On the other hand, employees approach their work with enthusiasm when their managers celebrate and cultivate their strengths. By doing this, you are initiating a culture of appreciation.

Did you know that CareWork automatically lets your facility leadership teams know when they are doing a great job based on real performance data? Working in long-term care can be challenging. We believe that recognizing performance and acknowledging improvement goes a long way toward employee health and satisfaction. So much so, we built it into our platform so that it's one of the first things teams see when they log in.

CareWork gives teams automated tools to increase quality, control costs, reduce waste, and get jobs done faster. We give providers an easy way to strategically manage operations in one place without the need to hire additional in-house IT experts. We make work life easier.

Ready to improve your employee's experience, decrease turnover and increase quality in long-term care? If so, contact us today.



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