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 New Employees in Senior Living Most Highly Engaged: Study

The most engaged employees in the senior living profession are the newest ones, according to new research. Specifically, first year employees in the senior living industry are 7.5 percent more highly engaged than employees who have been with the organization longer than one year. The same research also finds a 6.6 percent increase in disengaged employees who have completed a year of service.

The findings come from The Holleran Group, an organization specializing in research and consulting with aging services providers, including senior living. The organization’s proprietary benchmark includes the opinions and views of more than 59,660 employees working in the senior living profession, all surveyed within the past 24 months.

The study also found that the number of engaged employees stays consistent across all lengths of service, from year one through year 10. “This shows that employees are more likely to swing to the ends of the spectrum after their first year of employment, instead of settling into the middle range of engagement,” the organization said, in a statement.

Employees who face this identified “honeymoon period” make a critical, albeit likely unconscious, decision to remain highly engaged or become disengaged in their work. “It can be a slow fade for some as they go from highly engaged to disengaged over the course of their first year, but for others, they become no longer enchanted by their new role and responsibilities,” said Holleran.

The findings are significant for senior living providers facing hiring and retention challenges, but providers can take action. “Recognition programs, stay interviews, regular check-ins, and supervisor engagement training are all established best practices to increase levels of engagement,” says Jennifer Leo, senior research analyst.

Williamsburg Landing, a life plan community located in Williamsburg, Va, understands employee engagement past the first year, says Chief Talent Officer Brandy Day.

“The first year of employment is our responsibility to ensure every team member feels supported and trained to be fully successful at their job, but the retention efforts don’t stop there,” she says.

The community developed its Proud to Care talent management strategy to focus not only on recruitment and onboarding, but also on retention, training, and development, she says.

Indeed, the novelty doesn’t have to wear off after the first year of employment, and there are benefits, says Leo. “Maintaining a high level of engagement beyond the first year has obvious benefits for an organization—less turnover, increased productivity, and a contagious atmosphere of highly engaged wokers,” she says.

According to the organization’s website, the surveys, which have a 70 percent response rate, are designed to research the ways in which employees engage in their community, including what areas drive their overall satisfaction. By analyzing the data, the researchers found correlations that both reinforce commonly held beliefs and shatter preconceived notions about working in a senior living community.

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