Staff turnover is a common challenge for long term care centers; you can hardly speak to an assisted living administrator who hasn’t experienced at least one season of challenges with staffing. One of the goals for the 2018 American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL) Quality Initiative is to reduce staff turnover of direct care staff to a rate of 50% or less. Some assisted living facilities (ALF) are already maintaining this rate. For others, this goal is one that, with purposeful actions, can be attained.
Start with current staff
Look at the dedicated, hardworking staff in your facility and ask them why they continue to work there. Ask them what you could do to retain good staff members. Research has demonstrated that staff will stay in organizations where they are valued and have strong relationships with their supervisors. Sometimes, staff have the answers to the changes you need to make. I know it seems like you are doing everything right, but give staff a chance to provide feedback in the form of a survey so you have the information in writing. ALF administrators have so many things to juggle and sometimes, simple things are overlooked. Staff will tell others how great their jobs are and if they are committed, will help you with the journey of retention. It is not just about pay, although that is part of it, but it is also about the culture of a great workplace.
Hiring new staff
Engage your staff to be a part of the interviewing process. Ask several of your shining-star resident assistants to help you interview candidates. Create some questions for your staff to use and include them in the process of reducing staff turnover. Employee involvement in the selection process creates a sense of investment, and they are more likely to support the new hire’s success. Newly-hired employees are more likely to be comfortable with peers and help you gain more insight into the person’s personality and strengths. Remember, the newly-hired employee is also deciding if he or she has made a good decision to work at your facility.
I am sure you make rounds in your buildings to check on your residents, but do you check on your staff? Making rounds to let staff know they are important to the quality of care helps include them in the staff retention solution. Engaging the staff can bring many positive results. Take time to “catch them doing a good job.” There are times you must manage challenges but focusing on positive outcomes will make your day better, the employee’s day better and ultimately, will improve the resident’s care.
Ask your staff, “What is working well today?” and “What can be done to make it better?’ Sometimes just being asked will lighten the load knowing that someone is genuinely concerned.
It is not always easy to decrease staff turnover, but by setting a goal to reduce turnover rates to less than 50% you have started the process. The next step is to ensure your leadership team is focused on the goal. Use resources available through the AHCA/NCAL website which provides multiple steps to achieve the goal. Not every idea will work for you, but there are proven best practices that, if implemented, will help make practical simple progress. Remember, the goal is not to have zero staff turnover, but to improve to the set goal.
Quality of care rises when staff turnover decreases. This can be obtained, but actions steps must be taken. Sometimes when work hard to fix one problem, the side effect is improvement in other areas. Focusing on staff retention will help you reach Quality Award goals one purposeful step at a time.