Battling Rising Employee Turnover in a Pandemic

May 14, 2021 Lynne Jackson

The coronavirus ravaged  senior care facilities, accounting for nearly 40 percent of all fatalities in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, only 11 percent of all U.S. cases originated in long-term and post-acute care facilities.

The outbreak’s severity was magnified by many victims’ advanced age and underlying health conditions as well as the congregation of residents and workers in close quarters.

While long-term care operators battled COVID-19 in their facilities, they faced a brewing war on another: staffing.  Employee turnover soared to new heights during the pandemic, averaging 129% with some skilled nursing facilities reporting 300% turnover rates.

Employee turnover is expensive and far reaching.  In addition to causing employee scheduling and staffing problems, these “revolving door” employees are increasing the demand on onboarding and training resources while spreading discontentment among existing employees. Too many long-term and post-acute care organizations overlook employee turnover’s impact on remaining employees. Research demonstrates growing disengagement among workers left behind, who often take on more responsibilities without additional compensation or even expressions of gratitude.

Overall, turnover drains every company’s budget, “costing organizations 90% to 200% of the departing employee’s salary”. 

In senior care, these expenses escalate because overtime costs spike every time an hourly employee resigns. According to SmartLinx research, each employee turnover in long-term and post-acute care facilities costs the organization $16,000 in recruiting, onboarding, and workforce (overtime) expenses. 

Therefore, senior living organizations with 200 hourly employees generally replace 66 employees per year and spend $105,600 to do so. Meanwhile skilled nursing facilities of the same size often spend twice as much to compensate for turnover, which could cost about $200,000 to cover for 60% or 120 departing employees.

As a result, senior care organizations turn to workforce management systems to optimize hiring practices and help them compete more effectively with hospitality and retail sectors, which offer similar compensation packages. The costly employee turnover battle is taking new challenges with the aging population and the pandemic.

Senior care operators had to get creative to manage staffing and stem the rising tide of employee turnover. Read Staffing in a Pandemic eBook to discover how they navigated mounting staffing challenges during the greatest healthcare crisis in 100 years.

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