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Employment Practices Create Unique Environment and Boost Satisfaction at Senior Living Community
Claridge Court's retention strategy includes a focus on employees’ families. Combined with other hiring and relationship strategies, it's helped the community reach high employee and resident satisfaction scores.
Claridge Court Offers Career Growth and Fulfilling Work
May 11, 2012 -- Prairie Village, Kan. – Any employer will tell you how important it is to hire exceptional employees. But Debbie Brock, Claridge Court’s director of human resources, knows it’s particularly important at a retirement community. The Prairie Village, Kan., continuing care retirement community (CCRC) employs a total of approximately 140 people, many of whom are in direct contact with residents on a daily basis. This is why it’s critical for Brock and each department head to make the right hires, and retain great employees.
“We first need to know that their personality fits with our culture,” said Brock. “I ask about their experience with older adults, and I can tell right away if they have a passion for working with seniors. We’re looking for ethical, polite and skilled individuals who look up to seniors and want to make someone’s day better.”
After an initial interview with Brock, each prospective employee takes the “Best Hire” test, a 10-minute questionnaire that evaluates personality traits to help determine dependability and overall job fit. Generally, only about one out of every 100 applicants is hired – a stat of which the applicant is well aware.
“From the start they know we think they’re special,” said Brock. “That confidence and pride carries over to their work and interactions with the residents.”
The unique environment at Claridge Court makes working there fun and fulfilling – both of which are good qualities for retaining excellent employees. However, beyond the natural allure of helping older adults live a liberating retirement lifestyle, Claridge Court schedules several extracurricular functions to include employees’ families and strengthen relationships with residents. Examples include trivia competitions that allow residents and staff to team up and win prizes, and the annual Fall Festival, an event that encourages employees and residents to bring their families to the community’s courtyard for a day of games, food, a petting zoo and dunk tank. Brock said events such as these build mutual respect and enhance Claridge Court’s family atmosphere.
Another employee retention strategy is providing professional development and continuing education opportunities. Executive director Rob Salierno was first hired at Claridge Court in dining services at age 17. Through Lifespace Communities, Inc., the company that owns and operates Claridge Court and 11 other CCRCs across the country, Salierno participated in the Administrator-
“We want our team members to have a strong personal investment in what they do,” said Salierno. “Lifespace Communities and Claridge Court are happy to help strengthen skills to grow within the community. Not only is it great for their careers, but it’s great for our residents to be comfortable and delighted with the people they rely on to make Claridge Court a great place to live.
The community also offers financial assistance to employees who wish to take classes that they can apply to their work at Claridge Court.
Salierno said the community’s high resident and employee satisfaction scores, compiled by independent national research firm Holleran, show that their hiring practices and retention strategies are working. Overall employee satisfaction rate was 92.9 percent, and overall resident satisfaction rate was 95.9 percent, according to the Holleran national benchmark these two areas scored above the 90th percentile out of all communities surveyed.
Claridge Court, located at 8101 Mission Road in Prairie Village, Kan., is owned and operated by Lifespace Communities, Inc., a not-for-profit company with 35 years of experience in senior living. The Life Care community provides senior adults with a unique lifestyle experience and a variety of residential options, including 133 maintenance-
Founded in 1976, Lifespace Communities, based in Des Moines, Iowa, is a not-for-profit corporation that has grown to operate 12 Continuing Care Retirement Communities in seven states, serving more than 5,000 residents and employing 2,500 team members. Communities are located in Iowa, Minnesota, Kansas, Illinois, Nebraska, Pennsylvania and Florida. The organization is recognized by the LeadingAge Ziegler Top 100 as the seventh largest not-for-profit senior living provider system in the country.