Fast-Growing Enlivant Maintains Startup Vibe in Corporate HQ

It’s crucial these days for senior living companies to attract and retain multiple generations of workers, not only in communities but at the corporate level. Doing that is no small feat, however. Some businesses in the sector are finding that a well-designed headquarters, which creates a vibrant culture that drives the company’s mission and bottom-line results, can help.

For that reason, Senior Housing News is shining a light on a few cutting-edge senior housing HQs in the coming weeks, starting with owner and operator Enlivant.

In the loop

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When Enlivant chose its downtown Chicago headquarters about four years ago, the company wanted to create a space that exemplified transparency and collaboration.

The result was a nearly 30,000-square-foot office with plenty of room for the provider’s roughly 100 Chicago-based corporate employees, according to Enlivant’s vice president of marketing, Rich Scarle.

“It’s an open floor plan like you see in a lot of modern offices. We’re set up with pods of desks for departments so we can really foster a lot of interaction,” Scarle told Senior Housing News. “The whole thing was planned with this notion of collaboration.”

Internally, the office is referred to as a “support center,” not the corporate headquarters. The distinction is important because the office’s employees are there to support the communities, not the other way around, Scarle explained.

Though Enlivant preferred not to disclose exactly how much it invested in the space, it’s clearly not an insignificant amount. The office, located on the 37th floor of a downtown high-rise, has meeting nooks and seating for spontaneous gatherings, colorful tiles and walls, and breathtaking views of the surrounding city.

Even the space enclosed offices have glass facades so passersby can see in—another feature meant to boost transparency between departments. The open plan and collaborative atmosphere are meant to evoke a feeling of a “big small office,” where employees feel like they can depend on one another.

That mission was especially urgent because Enlivant rose from the ashes of troubled operator Assisted Living Concepts LLC. Creating a distinct and positive brand and culture was crucial at that point in time, in 2014.

“When we started Enlivant, it was kind of a startup mentality,” Scarle said. “It was everybody working together, and we didn’t want to lose that as we got bigger.”

The company has indeed gotten bigger—it just cracked the top 10 in Argentum’s largest providers list, released this week.

Space for engagement

Perks for employees at the Chicago office include a twice-weekly yoga class, health and wellness days with meditation and mindfulness sessions, volunteer opportunities and frequent get-togethers.

“These are the kind of things that help people feel good about working here,” Scarle said. “It increases retention, it increases the productivity of folks, how good they are at their job, and how happy they are and satisfied they are with working here.”

For Enlivant, the writing is on the wall—literally.

“We have our company mantra, where senior living thrives, painted large on one of our walls,” Scarle said.

Enlivant also proudly displays photos of its residents and communities, a practice meant to keep employees focused on what the company does every day. And when a worker does something that aligns with Enlivant’s core values—compassion, humility, integrity, excellence, and fun—a coworker might award them with a “core value card.”

“It’s not just collaboration, but really just trying to live what our mission vision values are,” Scarle said. “We created a space to make that accessible and easy to do.”

Written by Tim Regan

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