Brightview Senior Living BADGE logo

Realizing that people grow in different ways, Brightview Senior Living has expanded its individual development plans to support the personal and professional growth of its employees.

There are only so many positions in a senior living community, said Vicki White, Brightview’s director of employee relations. Some employees have been in their positions for a long time but want to contribute on a broader level, whereas others have a desire to be promoted but lack the foundation skills and aren’t sure of a path to achieve their goals. 

So about a year ago, BADGE — Brightview Associate Development Growth and Engagement — was launched as a holistic program to support worker education and growth in numerous ways.

“We expanded it from a vertical path and made it educational and extended the path so people could grow in the way they wanted to,” White said, adding that the company incorporated feedback from focus groups into the program.

Karl Douglas, Brightview’s director of talent development, called himself a poster child for the program. A 10-year employee, Douglas said he started on an individual development plan and rose to dementia care director. He then was tapped for an opportunity to become an executive director in training. That led to his current position, a role created for him as he worked to define the language around the growth and development pathways within the BADGE program, as well as manage others in the program.

“This is not conventional,” Douglas said. “The company thought it was so important they created this role. They wanted a team to manage growth and development at a high level. I pinch myself everyday. I love growing associates, because someone did that for me.”

Three development pathways

Today, the BADGE program is available to Brightview’s 5,800 employees and offers three pathways: Educate, Elevate and Extend. The one-year-old program typically has 100 to 150 employees at different stages in the program at any given time.

The Educate pathway offers eight pillars and is available to any employee via the company’s internal website. It provides information on developing soft skills through TED Talks, white papers, articles and other resources. 

The company partnered with Truist bank for a financial wellness program under the Educate pathway for the first three pillars, which focus on financial stress, budgeting and emergency saving. When a staffer completes those pillars, Brightview places money into an emergency savings account for the employee and then matches the employee’s contributions to that account for the first year. The goal, White said, is to help employees reach at least $1,000 in their emergency savings accounts.

“I’ve been with the company for 20 years in HR, and one of the things I noticed was, people stopped coming to work because they either couldn’t get there, something happened and they didn’t have backup services,” White said. “It’s really important to have this type of education and bring this education to them.”

The Elevate pathway is the reimagined individual development plan. Employees can apply and register their interest in a pathway, which then is discussed by the associate’s managers. If a request is approved, then the worker proceeds with development guides and tracking plans to provide a roadmap to success. Douglas said the process can take a few years.

The Extend pathway will launch later this year and is for employees who aren’t seeking growth or a promotion but have the skills to help the organization move forward. Douglas said that a certified trainer program helps associates who love their jobs share their skills with someone else.

“One thing that has been consistent throughout my tenure here is from absolutely day one, we put associates first. They are at the top of the chain,” White said. “Happy associates equal happy residents equal return on investment. It’s how we make every decision within our company.”

Douglas said he expects the BADGE program to grow, calling the current iteration BADGE 1.0.

“We use our associates to help us develop a program they want and is useful,” Douglas said. “For us, it’s about building legacy, building our bench strength and making it inclusive. I’m excited about what the future holds.”