Senior Housing News (SHN) caught up with Carlene Motto, Executive Vice President & Chief Marketing Officer at Belmont Village to talk about how the 27-community organization is overcoming human capital challenges in a record-low unemployment economy, and about their recently awarded “Great Place to Work” certification.
This interview has been edited for clarity.
SHN: How many Belmont village employees participated in the Great Place To Work Initiative Survey? What insights were you able to extract from that survey?
Carlene: Well, over 1,500 employees, more than 42% of our population, took the survey, including our Mexico City community. They provided a Spanish version and we were really excited to be able to get their perspectives as well. Great Place To Work has allowed us to say that who we are and what we do is truly special because it comes directly from our employees. As a company, we’ve always valued integrity and trust. Two important parts of the survey tell us that, yes, we are delivering on those values in our day-to-day operations.
Also, this process has allowed us to compare philosophy with practice in a way that lets us check in on who we are and how we’re doing. I’m extremely proud that we’ve been able to create the kind of culture and environment that is positive and encouraging. For more than 20 years, we’ve operated on some of the key values outlined by Great Place To Work. This is an affirmation that we are on the right track and contributing to something better for our people. The Great Place To Work certification allows us to sustain our culture by recognizing what we’ve accomplished and identifying areas of opportunity moving forward.
SHN: Is Belmont adopting any unique strategies to attract and retain talent in this strong economy with extraordinarily low unemployment across the country?
Carlene: Yes. First, we’ve made changes to our employee referral incentive program that encourages existing employees to become more engaged in the recruitment process. Secondly, we’re developing defined career paths throughout our operations, along with a training program, targeting new college graduates in an effort to spark interest in the field and develop a diverse pipeline of talent. We’re also partnering with vocational training programs and social service agencies who provide support to the underemployed as a source applicant referrals.
Through the caregiver training programs we’ve developed in select markets, we’re able to offer candidates the ability to learn a new skill as a caregiver. They are paid through the training process and then immediately begin their new career with Belmont Village. This is ideal for applicants who may have been displaced from another industry like retail, or high school graduates looking to jump into a career in the health care field, rather than working on a more advanced degree.
SHN: Do you believe there’s a correlation between employee engagement and occupancy at a community, and do you think highly engaged employees can help turn around underperforming communities?
Carlene: I absolutely do. There are so many studies that have been published and have found that the most engaged employees, those who are fully invested in their jobs and committed to their employers, are significantly more productive and drive higher customer satisfaction. In senior living today, customer satisfaction is a key driver to overall occupancy. Happy employees translate into happy residents. Prospective families feel this when they walk into a community.
Since founding our company, our employees have lived one of our core values of putting residents first, and I think that has been part of our success at Belmont Village today. They’ve contributed to creating the family-like environment with an inclusive culture that welcomes all of our residents. I think you’ll also find Great Place To Work research shows that the winners on these lists outperform the stock market and beat industry rivals when it comes to talent retention. All of this leads to better business success.
SHN: Is Belmont utilizing any tools or technologies to aid in that talent acquisition process?
Carlene: Yes, we are. We established an in-house recruitment department in 2015 and since then the department has grown to support the needs of our communities. Some of the tools that we’ve recently implemented are a new applicant tracking system specific to our health care field and a software platform that assists our employees with scheduling. We are also exploring tools such as a predictive index to better coach, on-board and train.
SHN: Are there any companies within or outside the sector that you admire for their brand, culture, or ability to engage employees?
Carlene: There are many on the list that I really admire and respect. The one that I could speak directly to is Marriott, because I worked for that company. They have been part of the top 100 list of companies for over two decades straight. They’ve appeared on the list every year since the ranking was first published. I had the privilege of working there, being part of their culture, and experiencing first hand their philosophy. Their philosophy when I worked there, and still today, is that if you take good care of your associates, they take good care of your guests, and the guests will keep coming back.
SHN: What are some of the traits that Belmont Village looks for in an employee?
Carlene: We look for good listeners, compassion, patience, trustworthiness, dependability, and willingness to go the extra mile to help our residents and their co-workers. We prefer a strong customer service or hospitality background and the ability to perform well in a team environment. We want employees who truly get enjoyment from making a positive impact on the lives of others, with a particular passion for working with seniors. They should all want to grow personally and professionally, have a strong work ethic, and a proven dedication to prior employers, as well.
What really gets our attention during the hiring process also is if the candidate is well prepared for the interview and presents professionally over the phone, on paper, and in person. Also, if they have a basic understanding of the Belmont Village mission that they can relate through their own interest in the position and if they bring new and compelling ideas to the table.
SHN: Many communities have entered partnerships with universities and high schools to attract young talent. Has Belmont Village secured any similar partnerships, and have they been successful?
Carlene: Yes. We’ve participated with UCLA, USC, Cal and Cornell and have partnerships with all of those organizations. We have also actively recruited from a variety of campuses across the country in the markets we serve, including some of the vocational schools and community colleges, through their job fairs.
We currently have an internal committee working on engaging high school students in our markets and we expect to roll out a robust partnership in the fall of 2018. For the past several years we’ve also supported college students through scholarships. Students are introduced to the field, network with top senior living leaders and attend sessions offered throughout the conference.
Looking for an effective, boutique talent acquisition tool? Join companies like Belmont Village on the SHN job board. The board is a niche platform designed for senior living professionals from across the continuum of care. Visit the Senior Housing News Job Board for more details at https://jobs.seniorhousingnews.com