Benefits and culture key to hiring and retaining workers, executives say – archyde

Left to right: Alison Kippen, Liza Berger, Steven Chies, Amy Schectman, Brenda Connelly, Jim White and Demetress Harrell discuss the caregiver shortage during a session during the McKnight’s Women of Distinction Forum. (Photo by Tori Soper Photography)

CHICAGO — Combining wage increases with innovative benefits and a culture that rewards loyalty is a key way to improve long-term care hiring and retention, six industry leaders said last week.

What doesn’t work is a cookie-cutter approach that just gives money to potential workers, speakers agreed at the McKnight’s Women of Distinction Forum Friday morning.

“I’ll tell you, having been through these crises throughout my career, there isn’t enough money to spend to fix the problem in the short or long term,” said Steven Chies, president of North Cities. Health Care and a 40 long term care veteran. “You need to have the data and the information before you can decide what the solution is. If you think in medical terms, you diagnose and then you prescribe.

North Cities, based in New Brighton, Minnesota, offers assisted living and skilled nursing. Chies’ comments came during “Work It: Smart Ways to address the nursing missing,” an hour-long educational panel moderated by McKnight Home Care Editor Liza Berger.

Other panelists included Brenda Connelly, RN, COO of McMinnville, senior living provider The Springs Living; Demetress Harrell, CEO of Hospice in the Pines, Lufkin, TX; Alison Kippen, vice president of human resources for Senior Lifestyle, a Chicago-based long-term care company; Amy Schectman, president and CEO of Boston-based 2Life Communities; and Jim White, associate and chief culture officer at Chicago-based Ignite Medical Resorts. They shared their biggest challenges, innovations that worked, and tips for improving recruitment and retention in other communities.

While much of the focus has been on staff losses among frontline caregivers, concerns about management, catering and housekeeping shortages are growing in health care facilities and residences for the elderly.

“There were people at the employee level who were stepping in and providing so much and that tension and struggle really made them wonder: is the reason I got into this still the same?” Connelly recounted. “But it’s also been a great opportunity on the employee front in particular, to be able to recruit and reach people from other industries, because now they’re sitting there wondering: Am I satisfied with my job?”

Patch new holes

White said health care can be sold as a stable profession with a growth curve ahead, when other industries may shrink. But he, too, saw challenges develop beyond nursing.

“Therapeutic discipline has also become extremely difficult, where therapists now, due to increased salaries, they see that they can leave and earn more money,” he said. “Sometimes you can compete and sometimes you can’t. … We actually had a big therapeutic hole this year.

Ignite Medical Reports has expanded to 14 locations in the central United States during the pandemic. White said recruitment and retention have been aided by the company’s “Superheroes in Scrubs” program, which rewards reliable employees with attendance bonuses, additional paid time off and gift cards.

“While we may not be able to compete with some of these exorbitant signing bonuses or salaries being paid to travelers or hospitals…I can be competitive enough and have other things behind that will look attractive,” White added.

Schechtman’s business doesn’t hire caregivers, but she’s faced many challenges filling maintenance and catering positions. Despite raising the minimum hourly wage to $19.25 and salaried employees to $40,000 a year, well-trained maintenance workers were still recruited for union jobs paying more than double the rate.

Although 2Life has moved to sliding-scale insurance premiums and started contributing to 401(k)s even for low-income workers who don’t pay themselves, Schechtman said higher-level solutions are needed.

“If you look at it on a very micro level, each of us can’t solve it with money,” she said. “If you look at the societal level, there’s a lot of money out there; for example: if we had Medicare for all; if we had a national minimum wage of $25 an hour. … If we made affordable housing a right instead of only nursing homes a right, we could change so much.

What works for them

Other recent benefits and intangibles added by panelist organizations:

  • Suspend salary increases for senior executives to give lower-paid employees bigger increases in the face of inflation.
  • Increase in paid leave to three weeks for all staff.
  • Added separate bereavement leave.
  • New bereavement counseling and support services.
  • Instant access to paychecks.
  • Launched flexible spending accounts to improve affordability of child care services.
  • Faster job offers after application and interview.

Harrell added that the hiring conversation needs to start before the individual worker applies. Like Kippen, she said the staffing crisis began before COVID-19, though it has been exacerbated by the pandemic. The problems are worse in areas where wages are suppressed.

“These shortages have taken nurses out of our communities, and they are now being paid a higher rate of pay to travel,” said Harrell, who noted that among nurses who graduated from a community college near her, only 3% went to work locally. . “They know they’re going to have that metropolitan dollar versus the rural rate. We may have the financial resources, but we don’t have the person.

When employers find the person, they have to be “ready to go” to make an offer, Harrell added. His comment was echoed by Connelly, whose company recently joined social media platform TikTok to help build excitement for the brand and attract applicants.

“Digital marketing is where you need to be,” she said. “Everything has to be displayed beautifully and quickly, because you only capture their attention for a short time. And then, once they reach out, you need to be there immediately and ready to attack the interview process.

Despite the pressure to work quickly and creatively, HR staff members must continue to support existing employees. Kippen said leaders must teach compassion as a key strategy and value.

“I think I hire this person to take care of a human being. It’s my job to take care of them,” Kippen said. benefits that are competitive in the market for what they do, but then… we have to be compassionate as well. a big chunk that we have to overcome.

The session was the second of three held during the annual meeting McKnight’s Women of Distinction Forum. For coverage of the first session, click here.

PointClickCare is the Diamond sponsor of this year’s event. OnShift and PharMerica are the Silver sponsors. The bronze sponsor is Reliant Rehabilitation. Table sponsors include Dreamscape, Gojo/Purell and Sound Physicians.

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