WINTER HAVEN – Imagine having 1,000 employees — but every year 500 of them resign.
That’s what most assisted living facilities face annually with staff retention. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the senior living industry has a turnover rate of 50 percent or more.
However, those statistics don’t apply to Lake Howard Heights in Winter Haven. The independent and assisted living community, managed by Atlas Senior Living, has an extremely high retention rate.
"We just don't have turnover," said Glenda Hanley, Executive Director. "With this many years invested, it is definitely more than just coming to work every day – the residents are a part of the lives of this team and are truly extended family."
For example, the on-site leadership team has a collective 74-and-a-half years of experience in senior living — and an average of 42 years at Lake Howard Heights, altogether.
Staff members who work in housekeeping, dining and maintenance have a high rate of retention, as well. Seventy-five percent of them have worked more than five years there and seven of them have been there between 15 and 20 years.
Lake Howard Heights has 47 employees – seven managers and 40 other staff members. Four of them have been at the Winter Haven facility for more than 20 years, with three for 15 to 20 years, five for 10 to 15 years, and the rest between two to five years.
“Even though we have had three different corporate changes, we still have a solid onsite management team,” Hanley said. “That has grown stability among the staff as a whole, in my opinion.”
The membership team keeps the staff informed with weekly and monthly meetings, helps keep them involved when possible and asks for their input when changes are made.
“Their input matters to us because they are the ones doing the work,” she said. “They have a vested interest. They just aren’t just punching a clock – they are a part of a team.”
Although the work is demanding in such facilities, the relationships that are often built between employees and residents is priceless.
“The expectations of excellence because we are caring for a very vulnerable part of society,” Hanley said. “We strongly emphasize that our residents come first.”
Hanley is optimistic that retention will continue to remain high for the most important reason – the residents.
"When you have put this much time in, you feel a part of the entire operation and the successes or failures so it is a true combined and concentrated effort to make this community the best it can be — not just for being the best place to work but most importantly to make it the best community possible for the lives of our residents," she added.
For more information, call 863.293.3171 or visit the facility at 650 North Lake Howard Drive, in Winter Haven.