Another day, another confirmation of why senior living has a serious labor problem on its hands.
This time, it’s in the form of a staffing survey from our friends at OnShift. (Disclosure: OnShift advertises with McKnight’s.)
Here’s the money ball: 72% of its nearly 1,500 respondents cited employee turnover as their top workforce challenge. You can see the full results here: https://www3.onshift.com/workforce360.
Kudos to OnShift for documenting this information, even if it’s hardly comforting. The truth may or may not set you free, but it’s generally a better planning tool than blissful ignorance.
If you are a manager in senior living and this finding comes as a surprise, turnover may not actually be your biggest concern. Even Captain Obvious could tell you that inadequate staffing is wreaking havoc these days.
Nor is it really much of a secret why rampant turnover is a chronic condition across the sector. Truth be told, there is not one cause; there are many. To cite but three:
1. The pay
Let’s face it, line workers in senior living do not, as a general rule, become wealthy. When they do, the reason is more likely to be a winning lottery ticket than accumulated wages. For the most part, this sector is either unable or unwilling to provide much more than entry-level pay.
2. The hours
In addition to generally offering sub-Costco wages, many operators also expect staff to be available for duty on nights, weekends holidays — and open shifts. Such demands can create extreme burdens for employees trying to manage the rest of their lives, much less show up for work on time.
3. The attitude
Bet you didn’t see this one coming, did you? But here’s the reality: talk is cheap. Do you shout that employees are your greatest asset while quietly sabotaging anything that smells even vaguely of unionizing activity? Do you promote only when necessary? Conversely, do you hoist supervisory titles on non-managers to avoid paying overtime?
No, not you of course. But plenty of others running senior living organizations do play those kinds of reindeer games — and worse. Don’t believe me? Say hello to my little friend, Google.
So here’s the deal. Yes, there are many good and decent operators out there trying to treat workers as fairly as possible. But there are plenty more lurking in the shadows, doing things that are, well, sketchy.
In my limited experience, people who believe they are being played, mistreated or deceived tend to leave as soon as possible.
So long as senior living wages and working conditions compare unfavorably with what’s available elsewhere, we shouldn’t be surprised when workers vote with their feet.
Or when surveys reveal the resulting carnage.