As we approach Labor Day, we really need to work on solving the industry’s labor problems.
I know it’s a bit of a cliché to talk about labor just before Labor Day, but what the Hell. To me, this is the most pressing issue for the entire seniors housing and care industry. Not only because labor represents well more than half of your costs, but because your employees are so critical in their interaction with your customers, both the residents and the family members. And to your success. But you know all this.
Why is it that every time I walk into a hotel, from the bellhop to the desk clerk to the housekeeper walking down the hall, they all greet me with a smile and a hello? Are they all that happy in their jobs? I really don’t know. But as long as it appears that they are, I feel better about my stay.
It has to be all about culture, and customer first. So how do we, as an industry, get there? Is the answer hiring certain immigrant groups who seem to have something embedded in their cultures about caring for people, especially the elderly? Unfortunately, that’s not a long-term solution. But it may be a starting point. What is it that makes them such good caregivers? What is it in their cultures that provides that spark of compassion that is needed when things get tough and messy in the care of our elderly?
When we solve this, we can solve the labor problem. But the solution will not involve finding people at the lowest cost to fit neatly in the budget numbers. Those days are over, at least for those who want to be a top performer in the long term. Have a great Labor Day weekend.