Here’s What Happens When Great Minds Get Together

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Denise Scott
Executive Round Table, Pioneer Network 2017
What happens when you get a small group of great minds in senior living together to talk about one of our fields biggest challenges: human capital? You get some great ideas that others in the field can learn from and you come up with a whole bunch of yet to be answered questions!
Recruiting and retaining the right people seems to be getting harder and harder, and the bad news is . . . it’s going to get much worse in the coming years. This was the basis for the Executive Roundtable on Human Capital, hosted in conjunction with Pioneer Network’s  annual conference in Chicago. I had the pleasure of facilitating the day with my partner in crime, Steve Moran from Senior Housing Forum.
As part of the day, the invite-only attendees, listed below, shared some of the best practices in their organization. There are too many to list in this short article, but be on the lookout for an upcoming e-book that is currently being crafted by Amy Elliot, a well-respected researcher in our field.
Best Practice Highlights
Some of the interesting highlights from the day that you can adapt to your own organization include:
  • Mike Rambarose, CEO of Whitney Center in Connecticut, one of our dear clients at Drive, shared that they have established a centralized screening process for applicants. We’ve all been guilty of hiring a person just because we really, really, really needed to fill the position. The centralized process essentially establishes what he refers to as a “cultural gatekeeper,” a person who helps to ensure that the potential employee not only has the technical skills, but values that are congruent with the organization’s.

  • Terri Cunliffe, CEO of Covenant Retirement Communities, told the group that her organization’s driving force is people that are “Inspired to Serve.” This includes how employees serve residents and each other. The leadership team didn’t craft the standards for their “Inspired to Serve” program. Instead 33 multi-disciplinary team members from around the country were flown into the corporate office to develop them! I’ve had the opportunity to experience the impact of these standards first hand. In the focus groups that we conducted with team members at Covenant Shores outside of Seattle, Washington, team members constantly shared how proud they were to be of service to others.
  • Tom Grape, CEO of Benchmark Senior Living, shared that his New England based company had established the “One Company Fund” to help team members in their time of need. When disaster strikes or hard times come, employees can apply to the fund for financial support through a grant, not a loan. One of my favorite parts of this program is that a panel of fellow associates review the blind applications and grant the gifts. The fund was initiated 10 years ago for their 10-year anniversary to thank frontline associates. To date, they have raised over $3 million, and distributed more than $2 million to associates in need.
What About You?
I hate that feeling of hiring someone just because you have to, even though deep down you know that person isn’t the right fit! You know that perfect person is out there, but they’re nowhere to be found! The last resort person you hire inevitably fails in their job and you wind up in the same position months later . . . searching desperately for the perfect candidate.
When I was an Administrator, I vowed to never do it again. When a job opened up in my organization, I wanted a lineup of people camping outside like a new IPhone was being released! It’s not about who’s paying the most money. Trust me I’ve talked to employees who say they are the best paid in the area and they still are planning to leave their jobs! It’s not about who has the fanciest break room. It’s about creating a culture where people want to work.
Pretend that it doesn’t matter. But we’re in an environment where organizations are fighting for the top performers; a staffing crisis of unprecedented proportions, that is just going to get worse in the coming years. Hiring just anyone means customer service nightmares blasted across social media. On the other hand, not hiring enough people means the inability to move in new residents (and poor star ratings if you have a skilled area).
You don’t know it, but if you are doing nothing today to improve your culture, you are losing the best candidates to your competition. Do you want to lose or do you want to triumph over the staffing crisis?
Stop the bleed and attract the best. Or lose out to the place down the block that’s hiring.
Executive Round Table Invited Attendees
Michael B. Rambarose, President & CEO, Whitney Center, Inc.
Christopher H. Cheek, President & Director, SentryCare, Inc.
William Pettit, President, RD Merrill Company and Argentum
Roberto Muñiz, President and CEO, Parker
Christopher M. Keysor, President and CEO, Lenbrook
Tiffany Nuche, Market Analyst, Avanti Senior Living
Randy Brow, CEO & Board Chairman, Rowntree Gardens
Thomas H. Grape, Chairman & CEO, Benchmark Senior Living
Veronica Barber, Sr. VP of Human Capital, Benchmark Senior Living
Amy E. Elliot, Research and Evaluation Consultant
Melinda Schmitz, Executive Vice President, SageAge Strategies
Terri Cunliffe, CEO, Covenant Retirement Communities
Chris Schott, Regional VP of Operations, Charter Senior Living, LLC
Michelle Kozloski, VP Human Resources, Covenant Retirement Communities