Engage and Prosper: Build the Culture and They Will Come

engageprosper-handsIn my experience working with senior housing providers, I have seen what happens when employees find meaning in their work. I recall a teenage kitchen worker in our Kind Dining class, who shared he was just looking for work and happened to get a job in this community. His focus was all about the money.  However, after working there for a while, he shared that, “The residents just grow on you, and you realize you can help them just by being present and nice.  You realize many don’t have family. It makes me miss the family members I have lost, and this way I can give back.”

He was not the only one who expressed an emotional gift sent and received between residents and staff. It happens all the time, however, it’s not often expressed and nurtured. He had a new sense of purpose and connection that motivated him to improve service…and to stay with the company regardless of his minimal wages.

In one of my favorite Harvard Business Review’s articles, “What Great Companies Know About Culture,” a core message is conveyed: “Those companies who are committed to a strong workplace culture tend to perform well.” A strong workplace culture is proven to improve the balance sheet for its company by 20-30%.

The balance sheet may be the bottom line for company owners, but research shows the bottom line for employees is something else. According to the Harvard Business Review article, employees in top-ranked companies are most motivated by career development opportunities and “brand mission,” a sense of identity and purpose within the organization.

Senior living communities may not be able to offer all their employees all the perks of top-ranked companies (health insurance, family leave, flex time, childcare, etc.), and they may not be able to pay frontline employees more than minimum wage. Low pay is one reason retention rates are historically low in the senior living marketplace. However, workplace culture—which top companies rank as the most influential aspect (80%) of daily operations—can be created and sustained for very little money.

Our responsibility as leaders in senior housing is to create the workplace culture that helps employees find meaning in what they do. We can show employees that we value them in concrete ways that have nothing to do with their paychecks. Training in communication, customer service and hospitality skills helps them personalize the dining experience and is an ideal place to start as you introduce new technology. This is the kind of career development opportunity that motivates employees. Giving them life-long learning tools helps them relate with residents, company values and each other is an investment in community that creates meaning and value for all stakeholders.

Kind Dining is an affordable training series and direct route to transform and elevate staff behavior around mealtimes so they become your most valuable company asset that will outshine your competition.

To read more about the value of training and ROI for doing so, purchase Hospitality for Boomers: How to attract residents, retain staff, and maximize profitability,  visit our website at www.HigherStandards.org , or contact Cindy Heilman directly  at cindy@higherstandards.org or at 503-913-1978.

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About Cindy Heilman

Cindy Heilman MS, DTR: Cindy Heilman has over 25 years of experience in enhancing hospitality, and food service standards. She is the CEO of her own company, Higher Standards LLC, and creator of Kind Dining® Training. Her unique background in restaurant ownership, in hospitality and healthcare food service, in working as a Dietetic Technician Registered and Healthcare Specialist at SYSCO Foodservices, led her to the development of her exclusive program that improves relationships and lives of aging residents through the dining experience.

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