Benchmark turns to artificial intelligence to attract, keep real workers

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Thomas "Tom" Grape
Thomas "Tom" Grape

Waltham, MA-based Benchmark Senior Living will harness data, artificial intelligence and predictive analytics in an effort to tackle the senior living industry's biggest challenge, worker recruiting and retention, the company announced Thursday.

“We reached out to Arena to help us build on our reputation as a top employer using the rich data analytics it offers,” Benchmark founder, Chairman and CEO Tom Grape said in a statement. The senior living organization has been named one of the Top Places to Work in Massachusetts by the Boston Globe for 10 consecutive years, he added.

It's a big undertaking. Benchmark ranked 32nd on the 2017 ASHA 50 list of largest senior living community owners, produced by the American Seniors Housing Association. The company operates almost 60 senior living and long-term care communities across eight Northeast states and employs more than 6,100 people who serve more than 6,000 residents.

“We care deeply and equally about the individuals we employ and their journey with us,” said Benchmark Senior Vice President of Human Capital Veronica Barber, “and we are determined to attract and hire only those whose values align with ours — people who are a solid match for Benchmark, our residents and our existing team of associates. We see Arena as an invaluable partner in helping us achieve our people-centered goals.”

Arena's “machine learning system” works by collecting data about applicants — including application, interaction and public data —  through a cloud-based platform, then using the data to generate a prediction for each candidate in each organization, location, department and role. The company said it has reduced employee turnover for all of its clients, with a median reduction of 38%.

Its clients have included McLean, VA-based Sunrise Senior Living and Baltimore-based LifeBridge Health, which operates the Levindale Hebrew Geriatric Center and Hospital, which offers skilled long-term, respite, dementia, respiratory and comfort/hospice care. Overall, the company has worked with more than 450 residential or health-related facilities.

“Partnerships like this are especially significant because of the growth of the senior living industry,” Arena founder and CEO Michael Rosenbaum said in a statement.

Benchmark hopes that addressing recruiting and retention issues also will result in increased resident and family satisfaction, employee engagement and quality of care. Arena said its data can help with those goals, too.

Employee retention usually is the starting point, according to Arena, and then efforts expand to areas such as employee engagement and resident satisfaction. “The longer we work with clients, the more outcome data we receive and the more accurate our predictions become, by leveraging machine learning techniques,” according to the company.

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