Attracting The Right Employees Is Key in Senior Housing

As one of the three largest US providers of managed housing for seniors, Life Care Services must attract and retain a workforce of nearly 23,000 people to run its 140 retirement communities nationwide.

It’s a huge and growing market. The number of US citizens age 65 and older will reach 78 million by the year 2033, at which time seniors will outnumber young people 18 and younger for the first time in the country’s history and represent one in every five Americans, according to the US Census Bureau.

To prepare for that growth, Life Care Services needed a comprehensive HR information system to replace a variety of disparate systems, which provided very limited access to conventional employee data. “We couldn’t even tell if an employee was a manager or a non-manager,” says Lisa Ryan, vice president, and HR director. “We wasted a lot of time.”

Users couldn’t be sure if that limited information was accurate, as even routine changes had to be entered manually into several different databases. And there was no built-in workflow to automate routine tasks.

“Our systems caused endemic frustration across the business,” Ryan recalls. “We’d hire HR managers who came from companies that have sophisticated, integrated HRIS systems. They’d start working with our system and it was like taking a step backward.”

Key System Features

Among Life Care Services’ requirements for a new HR system, sketched out by Ryan and business system manager Dave Elfvin: It needed to be scalable, able to automate all paper-intensive HR functions, easy to use, allow for self-service (letting employees look up their own HR information on their smartphones during all three shifts), and be cloud-based for easy updates.

Oracle HCM Cloud “checked all our boxes,” Ryan says. Working with partner Drivestream, Life Care Services started rolling out Oracle HCM Cloud’s core HR, payroll, benefits, and profile management modules, as well as the talent acquisition and social sourcing capabilities of Oracle Taleo Cloud Service, in December 2016. The company plans to add Oracle Taleo’s talent review and succession planning capabilities later this year.

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The company’s HR data is now more reliable, the HR workflows are automated, employees are accessing their own information, and there’s a standard employment form an automated application process to speed the hiring process, Ryan says.

After spending only a few minutes trying out the new system, one previously frustrated manager proclaimed it to be “elegant,” she says, an assessment she found amusing. “In all my years of experience, I’ve never heard an HR computer system described as ‘elegant’ before,” she says.

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Ryan says the new HR system will help the employee-owned company find and retain the kind of people who will carry forward its 47-year history of treating its senior clientele like family members. “Our leaders have built the culture of the company based on their own values and integrity and have formed the strategic direction of the company on that basis,” she says. “Rather than making business decisions based purely on financial gain, they look at what’s best for the seniors we welcome into our communities.”

‘Life Plan’ Communities

Life Care Services, based in Des Moines, Iowa, manages communities that offer resort-like accommodations and activities for active retirees, as well as a continuum of care for seniors who need it as they age. The company’s communities house 33,000 older Americans.

Residents are free to customize and decorate their accommodations to feel like home, and the communities’ chefs serve up “incredible,” nutritious meals, especially important to the health and well-being of those residents who choose to no longer shop and cook for themselves, Ryan says.

Safety is also a priority. During Hurricane Matthew in September 2016, employee “hotline” volunteers updated family members on the well-being of their loved ones. Life Care Services also has a resident advisory council, whose members influence community programs and policies. An engagement survey measures residents’ satisfaction and gives them another vehicle to suggest improvements.

In 2017, the LCS Foundation was established to focus on several key areas: supporting Alzheimer’s research, developing future leaders within the senior living industry, and supporting colleagues facing crisis situations. The foundation provides money for scholarships and internships for college students interested in a career in the industry. It also is establishing professional development programs with colleges, whereby students work for a year at one of the communities while still in school, followed by a permanent job once they graduate.

“Employee retention is a priority for Life Care Services, and we are doing all we can to hire and keep good people,” Ryan says. “We have committed leadership, and we’re offering competitive compensation and work that matters. While a new HRIS system won’t necessarily make or break a person’s decision to work for the company, it will contribute to a sophisticated and professional work environment.”

 

Blog Source: Forbes | For Provider Of Senior Housing, Attracting The Right Employees Is Key

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