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In senior living, your company culture has a direct impact on residents. When your staff is happy, your residents are more likely to be satisfied with their community and level of care. Improving your workplace culture is an important step towards improving your senior living environment as a whole. 

Workplace Culture and Resident Culture Are Linked: Here’s Why 

Longer resident stays make senior living unique. When the same residents live in a community for an extended period of time, they have the chance to truly get to know the employees around them (and vice versa). If these employees are unhappy, residents will notice. 

According to Gallup, only 36% of employees report feeling engaged at work. When employees are disengaged, they’re more likely to quit, and less likely to form the meaningful connections that make senior living communities feel like home for residents. A lack of engagement can also mean that employees are unhappy and unmotivated. 

In a healthcare environment, low engagement could also mean more mistakes, and a decrease in quality of care. High turnover may also damage your reputation in your local community. Potential residents could turn to your competitors instead, making it harder for you to fill your open beds. Alternatively, happy employees will boost your reputation in the community, helping you passively attract more employees and more residents

Five Ways You Can Improve Workplace Culture (and Create Your Ideal Senior Living Environment) 

Improving staff culture is a process, and it’s easier said than done. Here are some concrete steps you can take today to improve your staff culture in the long run.

1. Incorporate Culture Into Your Hiring 

Before you start hiring, take time to delineate your mission statement and company values, incorporating staff and resident feedback. When you integrate these values into your hiring process, you’re more likely to attract and retain your ideal candidates. Your description of your workplace culture needs to be authentic to your facility. If you’re struggling to define the culture, ask your employees what they love about your community. 

Start by updating your job ads to reflect your workplace culture. Outline your mission statement in your job description. If you mention values like career support and work-life balance, back them up in the interview process by explaining your relevant policies (routine internal promotions or generous family leave, for instance). The interview process is also a great time to speak directly about company culture and how it could benefit the candidate. 

2. Offer Flexible Benefits 

Did you know that only 15% of workers are offered flexible benefits? Investing in flexible benefits for your workforce can help you stand out. When employees are worrying about their basic needs, such as paying for gas or childcare, they’re more likely to show up to work already drained. That’s bad for workers’ on an individual level, and it also strains your culture as a whole. 

With flexible benefits your employees can adjust to the unpredictability of life and select the benefits best suited for their circumstances. With inflation on the rise and the COVID-19 pandemic causing ongoing strain, a flexible suite of benefits can be a lifesaver for employees. When your staff has their basic needs met, you’ll have a happier and healthier workplace.  

3. Create a Judgment-Free Space for Feedback

Listening to employees goes a long way. Use one-on-one meetings or staff surveys to better understand and improve staff culture. Besides surveys, try other avenues for feedback. Consider quarterly meetings for staff, or moderated town hall meetings where employees are able to share freely. 

4. Prioritize Onboarding 

Onboarding is crucial. Not only does a quality onboarding experience give your employees the specific skills they need to thrive, it also introduces them to your community values. 

During onboarding, you have the chance to give a comprehensive overview of your staff culture and goals. This dedicated time may not be available once your employees get mired down in day-to-day work. According to Bryson Kearl of BambooHR, effective onboarding makes employees 18 times more likely to feel highly committed to their organization. Orientation is also a great way to introduce new hires to current staff. Make use of a “buddy system” so new hires can reach out to their peers as they adjust to the company culture.  

5. Be Inclusive

Employees, residents, and your senior living environment will suffer if someone feels excluded on the basis of their identity. DEI training is a great place to start, but employees and employers must recommit to inclusivity every day

It’s important to create a non-judgmental environment so employees feel empowered to approach HR. Make sure your job posts and hiring process are welcoming to everyone. 

Sometimes, despite your best intentions, language can be exclusionary. Not sure if you’re missing out on your ideal candidate? Consider a recruitment audit. We also suggest getting feedback from candidates about DEI and the inclusivity of your recruitment process, since it can be challenging for HR to retain objectivity about a hiring strategy that they created themselves. Access your EEO (equal employment opportunity) data to audit your efforts.  

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What Are Some Signs Your Senior Living Environment is Healthy? 

  • Staff and residents are familiar with one another. A healthy senior living environment should emphasize community. Measuring community doesn’t have to be complicated. When you walk down the halls, do you notice people greet each other? Do residents know employee’s names, and vice versa? These are all signs of a healthy environment. 
  • A strong company culture. What are some key terms and phrases that would describe your ideal senior living environment? How many of those apply to your current community? If there’s a reasonable amount of overlap, that means you’re on the right track. 
  • High participation in voluntary activities and training (by both residents and staff). This is a sign that members of your community are engaged and interested in your programming and the people around them. 
  • Positive feedback from both residents and employees during meetings and (ideally frequent) anonymous surveys.
  • Managers and employees who feel connected. In a fast-paced healthcare environment, it can be easy for relationships between managers and employees to fall by the wayside. In a healthy senior living environment, managers and their direct reports are able to grow and learn together. 

Better Hiring With Apploi

With Apploi, you can hire your ideal candidates quickly, so you have more time to focus on larger questions of workplace culture. Interested in learning more about how you can recruit, hire, and onboard healthcare staff quickly? Contact us today for a free demo of our software solution.


Melanie Boroosan

Over her six years in healthcare administration, Melanie has managed human resources, legal, compliance, payroll, and recruitment efforts at a corporate level. This oversight granted her a deep appreciation for the unique needs of healthcare managers, and for the direct ways that business operations affect the wellbeing of each employee. As Apploi’s Director of Healthcare Innovation, Melanie draws from her experience in healthcare HR and ancillary long-term care to pursue a vision of holistic healthcare staffing. Her work is rooted in the knowledge that great care begins with improving quality of life for all healthcare workers.