The Employee First Culture in Long Term Care

Introduced in the previous blog, the concept of the employee-first culture has started to transform workplace structures across the world. Companies of all sizes and industries are seeing the benefits of prioritizing their employees’ needs and empowering them in their daily interactions with clients. What kind of impact might implementing an employee-centered culture have on organizations in the long-term care industry? Could this be the solution to its persistent issues of high turnover and worker shortage?

In long-term care, the trusting, intimate relationship between the client (the resident and their family) and the employee (the clinical staff) is the most important function of the organization. Because care delivery must be so consistent and frequent, the resident is more exposed to the greater employee culture, just as staff learns more deeply about the resident themselves and what they want from their care providers.

Creating an employee-first culture in these types of organizations is vital not only because residents so tangibly experience the personal side of the staff. It’s also because clinical staff have exclusive access to extremely valuable details about residents that could change the way they are cared for. Giving staff an open, accommodating work environment and a listening ear is the only way this information can be learned and applied by management.

Long-term care is inherently stressful, as with the larger medical field—everyday tasks can often be thankless and/or uniquely challenging and the stakes are high since human lives are in the balance. The old model of “the customer is always right” no longer applies here for several reasons: satisfying customers is ambiguous and subjective, customers often have little education as to how they can best be served, and resources or assistance is only available to an extent.

Employers, however, often make the mistake of assuming that a way to ease this stress is through increased pay (which can be a short term solution). Recent studies have reported that most long-term care employees decide with whom they work based on work environment rather than salary. Some of the elements of an attractive work environment for them include schedule flexibility, break room amenities, better parking and eating options, more face time with supervisors and other aspects that employers may think as relatively insignificant.

In the next blog, we’ll look at what it takes from corporate managers and decision makers to begin cultivating an employee-first culture.

Dr. Linda Shell, MA. RN |

Dr. Linda Shell MA, RN, principal and co-owner of LindaShell.Com and Legacy Market Services, Inc, has over twenty-five years of experience providing education, leadership development and consultation to non-profit and for-profit senior care organizations.