Senior living organizations’ successes in addressing the industry’s top challenge — recruiting and retaining employees — were the center of attention Thursday as Great Place to Work and Fortune Magazine released their lists of Best Workplaces for Aging Services for 2019.

To arrive at this year’s lists of 40 senior housing and care organizations (20 large and 20 small or medium-sized, based on number of employees) and 10 in-home care providers, consulting firm Great Place to Work analyzed anonymous survey feedback from 223,183 employees and performed assessments of companies that chose to become Great Place to Work-certified. More than 60 elements of employee job experiences were considered for the rankings.

| See the 2019 rankings. |

Eighty-five percent of each evaluation was based on what employees said about the trust they held for an employer and their experiences in reaching their full potential at an organization. The remaining 15% of each evaluation was based on the daily experiences of innovation for all employees, company values, effectiveness of leaders and consistency in experience.

“We put so much time and energy into being a great place to work,” said Doug Dollenberg, president of Baltimore-based Brightview Senior Living, which topped the list of large senior housing and care organizations. “It’s really rewarding to have those efforts recognized by Fortune,” he added.

“Only by creating a culture where our associates feel valued will they, in turn, create a great place for our residents to call home,” Brightview CEO Marilynn Duker wrote in a guest column appearing on

| Read Brightview CEO Marilynn Duker’s guest column. |

“The value of creating great workplaces for all is a clear competitive edge in the aging services sector,” Great Place to Work CEO Michael Bush said. “When organizations like Brightview Senior Living treat their own people with care and respect, you can expect their staff to treat your loved ones with that same care.”

Oak Brook, IL-based Embrace Living Communities topped this year’s list of small and medium-sized senior housing and care companies.

The Best Workplaces for Aging Services lists debuted last year with Tulsa, OK-based Senior Star ranking No. 3 overall and tops among “senior living-dominant” operators as determined by Great Place to Work and Fortune. The organization remained in the top 10 of large organizations this year.

Feedback from employees is “critically important” to employers, Senior Star CEO Anja Rogers said.

“I believe that when all people feel purpose at work, when safety is part of our wellness culture, and when fellow associates welcome each other generously from day one, these things translate into excellent service and care,” she said. “The more we actively listen to the people behind the data, the more rapidly we become a great place to work for all.”

| Read Senior Star CEO Anja Rogers’ guest column from 2018. |

Forty percent more organizations and employees, representing more than 3,000 locations in senior living and care nationwide, were eligible for the Fortune list compared with last year, according to the senior care division of Great Place to Work.

“This year’s industry participation indicates that operators recognize how these metrics help lift business results,” Rogers said. “If this spirit continues, I expect the results of the data to be unmistakable; senior living will become an industry of choice across generations.”

Argentum reported that 12 organizational members were represented on the list.

“These Argentum member companies have exhibited exceptional workplace cultures — cultures that support growth, innovation and trust,” said Brent Weil, vice president of workforce development at the association. “We congratulate them not only for receiving this recognition, but for supporting the many opportunities that careers in caring can offer.”

American Health Care Association / National Center for Assisted Living told McKnight’s Senior Living that 18 of its member companies were recognized.

Additional insights

Other insights from leaders of organizations on the list:

Belmont Village Senior Living CEO Patricia Will: “We want our associates to build their careers with us for the long-term, and we put a high priority on fostering job satisfaction and creating substantive growth opportunities. For this recognition to come from our own employees is especially meaningful.”

Eskaton President and CEO Todd Murch said that the company’s success is built on its “dedicated, compassionate employees” and that leaders there place an ongoing emphasis on engaging and listening to workers to improve the employee experience. “One example is that we literally roll out the red carpet for every new employee, which has delighted and surprised incoming team members,” he said. “More importantly, we have focused on enhancing wages, improving the onboarding and retention experience, and increasing the frequency of satisfaction surveys for employees, residents and families, because we want their voices to be heard.”

Holiday Retirement CEO Lilly Donohue: “Associate engagement drives better business results, and we know that highly engaged associates help older people live better. Our people are making the difference.”

Mansions Senior Living owner Kim Davis: “Our overriding attitude is, ‘What can we do to help people be happier and work better?’ That’s why we are so proud and gratified to receive this recognition. Being small allows us to do what is right for both residents and employees to make their lives the best they can be.”

Ohio Living CEO Laurence C. Gumina: “Our 3,200 teammates consistently tell us that our culture is the feeling of family. We nurture that culture by hiring team members with a passion for bringing their best to work each day, and we are committed to creating an environment where they will thrive. …We created tangible expectations and measures for our teammates to target in their day-to-day work. We know who we are and try to live into our culture each day.”

Sunrise Senior Living CEO Chris Winkle: “Our valued team members are devoted to the Sunrise mission to champion quality of life for all seniors, and that’s powerfully evident as they work to bring meaningful days to our beloved residents. We remain committed to cultivating and growing our team members within the organization and are always seeking to strengthen our position as an employer of choice in our industry.”

Trilogy Health Services President and CEO Randall Bufford: “At Trilogy, we have a simple philosophy when it comes to caring for our employees: ‘We care for you as you care for others.’ We are passionate about making investments in the employee experience that allow all members of our Trilogy family to thrive, both personally and professionally. Trilogy employees are offered scholarship opportunities, student loan repayment programs, apprenticeship programs, wellness perks, recognition celebrations and now, thanks to our partnership with Purdue Global, the opportunity to pursue a college education with 100% of their tuition covered. Our employees are the heart and soul of our company, so we make it a point to treat them as such. We promote a culture of acceptance, safety and empowerment, which translates to lower turnover rates and higher employee satisfaction.”

See additional information about each organization on the Great Place to Work and Fortune websites.

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