With reimbursements being slashed and regulations increasing, employers in long-term care are feeling the pressure to not only do more with less but find creative ways to do it, says Neil Gulsvig, CEO at Wausau, Wisconsin-based senior living solutions provider Align LLC.
When faced with this challenge, one of the key differentiators between those that are thriving and those just surviving, is the ability create an engaged workforce. But creating an engaged workforce, has been a unique challenge for the LTC. According to an industry insider, it may come down to understanding and accepting the realities of how LTC has created its own predicament.
“I don’t think as an industry, we have done a good job in really creating an engaging environment,” Janice Gulsvig, Align’s COO, says. “In long-term care, churn became very much the norm.,”
Janice, a 35+ year veteran in LTC, has held positions ranging the gamut from front line staff to administrative executive. High employee turnover, according to Janice, has become “sort of an accepted business reality.” Various staffing pressures in the long-term care industry — an aging workforce, a misunderstanding of long-term care among millennials, wages that are considered undesirable — have made turnover an issue that can no longer be brushed off.
“We no longer have the luxury to accept churn as a business reality, because eventually you won’t have anyone left. And that eventuality is closer than you think,” Janice says.
Long-term care organizations have traditionally focused on employee recruitment, without focusing enough on employee retention, she explains.
“Organizations had a recruitment strategy to combat turnover, rather than retention strategies to prevent turnover,” Janice says.
Now, more and more, long-term care organizations are beginning to look at their culture, and they’re considering how establishing a culture can engage the type of employees they want to retain.