Senior Living: 6 Tips to Avoid Employee Burnout

Senior Living|Thought Leadership|

Many people—even those who’ve never had senior living on their radar—are feeling deep compassion for senior living communities, their residents, family members, employees, and the industry as a whole. But unfortunately, compassion doesn’t invigorate tired employees who are dealing with the threat of COVID-19 on a daily basis. We sure wish it did!

We’ve seen first-hand how much employees and operators care for their residents. We know that for every employee—from caregivers, cooks and techs to facilities and housekeeping staff—this situation is draining physically and emotionally. Our hearts go out to you; we want to offer a few ideas that might help.

How can senior living communities help prevent employee burnout during these challenging times? How can we help employees continue to bring their best to residents?

Here are 6 ideas to help senior living employees stay uplifted during COVID-19:

  1. Create an employee recognition program highlighting real-life positive stories about how the staff is overcoming the COVID-19 crisis. Include everyone at your facility. Create a campaign allowing residents or family members to nominate an employee for a positive contribution. Put this online, send an email to family members, and go room to room asking residents if they have any nominees. Have a weekly awards ceremony; announce who the week’s recipient is and why. Give them a gift card or small prize. We have a feeling there will be no shortage of nominees; this type of ongoing recognition may be something you’ll want to keep long after this pandemic ends! Use posters, emails and social media to share this messaging both internally and externally.
  2. Designate time to celebrate small victories. Whether it’s 10 minutes once a week, or 5 minutes at the beginning of every shift, make celebration a priority. Even if you’re just celebrating Wednesday or Tom’s comfortable new shoes, small victories matter. While these senior living activities may cheer up residents and therefore positively impact staff, having dedicated staff celebrations are sure to brighten moods. Of course, these celebrations can include snacks or other fun touches, but that’s totally up to you!
  3. If staff members are quarantined, or home with sick family members, take up a donation. It’s not always about the money, but the intention behind the money. Take up a voluntary collection/donation from the residents for the staff, even if it is just .50 cents/day while they are quarantined.
  4. Ask employees what they need. This situation is unprecedented. We can’t always figure out what other people need, or what would genuinely make them feel better. Don’t just guess, but ask, what employees need to do their job.
  5. Consider helping with childcare, food, laundry or other personal needs. If your employees are distressed over childcare, do you have ancillary space you can convert onsite to provide childcare? If they are distressed over food, can you send home meals at the end of each shift for your employees and their immediate families? Many healthcare workers have expressed concern about bringing the virus home with them. Can you offer to launder their scrubs to limit contamination? Any personal need you can help with can make a big difference!
  6. Staff-inspired dance parties. Are we the only ones who feel better after a quick dance party? We doubt it! In our view, mini impromptu dance parties never made anyone feel worse. Make a list of each employee’s favorite song. In the community area, or even over the intercom, announce “Let’s all dance to Patty’s favorite song, We Are Family!” Residents can join in from the comfort of their rooms, chairs or beds, and employees can do it wherever they are. Whatever works best for your facility!

Thank you, senior living staff, for being on the front lines of the pandemic, and keeping people safe. You deserve more gratitude than we’ll ever be able to truly voice. We think about you every day, and we’re beyond grateful!

If you need help creating a program to inspire and reward employees, we can help. Set up a quick chat with Vince Vitti; he’ll be happy to speak to you directly and see what’s possible.

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