Job seekers in the senior care labor market have no shortage of employment options. Employers are vigorously competing for an ever-shrinking pool of qualified staff. A key differentiating strategy for senior care employers is to be an “employer of choice” by creating a healthy, highly supportive, employee-centric workplace.
“Employers of choice attract job candidates who are eager to work for them,” says Stephen Chee, director of employee wellness at Lifetime Wellness. “At the same time, they cut down on staff turnover and hold on to valued employees who deeply appreciate what they have, where they are – with no reason to look elsewhere.”
Lifetime Wellness offers a continuum of solutions that help providers become, or strengthen their status as, an employer of choice. These solutions holistically address caregiver employee needs and help employers to create a great place to work.
Supporting Caregiver Needs
In a keenly competitive industry, nurturing the employee relationship, with a focus on employee well-being, is essential to retaining staff.
“Employee turnover affects not only finances but relationships between caregivers and residents,” Chee says. “Constantly changing staff can be a major disruption to residents. Understanding and meeting employee needs is more important than ever in maintaining staff continuity and keeping residents happy.”
What do caregiver employees need? “Four things,” Chee says. “They need to know that they are appreciated and their employer genuinely cares about them. They need to know that their work is significant. They need to be encouraged to take care of themselves. And they need to work in a healthy environment. Delivering an employee wellness program can fulfill all four of these needs.
“Often, caregivers are so involved in their roles that they can’t see their own health declining. Day after day, they ‘spend their tank’ at work and over time, depletion takes its toll. We encourage caregivers to take care of themselves. It’s OK; don’t feel guilty, and it’s not selfish. We ask, ‘When was the last time you said ‘no’? Can you say ‘no’? Much of what we do is educating staff in the hazards of compassion fatigue – and how they can practice self-care techniques. They’re awakened to a new way of caring for themselves so they can better care for others.”
Another key differentiator in becoming an employer of choice is providing support for mourning workers – those who have lost a family member or a resident or colleague with whom they’ve grown close. A recent article in the Chicago Tribune presents the case for more support for grieving employees in the workplace.
”Grief doesn’t stop at home, behind closed doors,” Chee says. “It continues on in the workplace. Grief-stricken employees need extra support when they’re back on the job, as they will likely be distracted and may not be as productive. We’ve found that workers who were treated with compassion in times of grief are exceptionally grateful and loyal to their employer.”
Starting an Employee Wellness Program
To help senior care providers support caregiver needs and promote employee wellness, Lifetime Wellness offers a Caregiver Wellness Toolkit. “The program is an easy-to-implement starting point for creating a wellness program,” Chee says. “It provides staff with easy access to helpful resources.”
The kit includes customizable materials that support best-practice wellness education, from monthly wellness roundtables to employee wellness posters, weekly wellness tips by email, and wellness videos. Lifetime Wellness also provides onsite support, including caregiver wellness workshops and wellness quarterly challenges on such topics as preventing chronic conditions, relieving stress, and managing compassion fatigue.
The Caregiver Wellness Toolkit is offered as a ready-to-purchase program for easy implementation. Lifetime Wellness also provides comprehensive training and resource support for staff, along with full wellness department outsourcing.
Surviving and Thriving
“In the years ahead, the pressure on the senior labor market will only intensify,” Chee predicts. “For providers, long-term survival hinges on whether they can attract, and keep, the right staff. Employers with the tools to enhance the physical, mental, and emotional well-being of their staff will be miles ahead of their competitors – ensuring their employees are well cared for so they can continue to deliver outstanding care to those they serve.”