Brightview Senior Living and Summit Vista are the top workplaces in senior living for employee satisfaction, according to this year’s Best Workplaces in Aging Services list.
Baltimore-based Brightview, which operates a portfolio of 42 communities, took the No. 1 spot among large providers for the second year in a row; while Summit Vista, a life plan community managed by Life Care Services and based in Taylorsville, Utah, ascended to the top of the list among small- and mid-sized providers this year.
Being Great Place To Work-certified in the midst of a global health care crisis is no small accomplishment for any senior living provider, according to Brightview President Doug Dollenberg.
“For Brightview to land at the top of the Fortune Best Workplaces in Aging Services list for two years in a row is both outstanding and humbling,” Dollenberg told Senior Housing News.
For Summit Vista, the top ranking is a testament to the company’s culture, which is rooted in empathy and communication, according to Executive Director and CEO Mark Erickson.
“When we were out with in the community, yes, we had to have our game face on, but we told people that it was OK to be sad, scared, or stressed,” Erickson told SHN. “I told employees that there were days that I went home and cried, and that is OK. It is normal.”
Here is the top 10 list for both categories:
Large senior housing and care employers:
1. Brightview Senior Living
2. Continuing Life
3. Wesley Enhanced Living
4. Trilogy Health Services
5. Holiday Retirement
6. Silverado Senior Living
7. MBK Senior Living
8. Carlton Senior Living
10. Retirement Center Management
Small and medium senior housing and care employers:
1. Summit Vista
2. Citadel Healthcare
3. Peace Village
4. Careline Health Group
5. Royal Oaks
6. Embrace Living Communities
7. Vicar’s Landing
8. Van Dyk Health Care
9. Sun Health Senior Living
10. Chaparral House
Other senior living providers that made the list of large providers included McMinnville, Oregon-based The Springs Living, which ranked No. 11; Houston-based Belmont Village, which ranked No. 13; Tulsa, Oklahoma-based Senior Star, which ranked No. 14; Lake Oswego, Oregon-based Eclipse Senior Living, which ranked No. 16; and Frederick, Maryland-based Asbury Communities, which ranked No. 20.
The small- and medium-sized providers list included Birmingham, Michigan-based Bloom Senior Living, which ranked No. 13; and Dallas-based Buckner Retirement Services, which ranked No. 16.
The overall list ranks 50 top aging services workplaces, and consists of 20 large senior housing and care providers; 20 small- and medium-sized senior housing and care providers; and 10 at-home care companies.
This year’s list included input from 189,159 employees working in the U.S. senior housing, skilled nursing and in-home care sectors. Employees were surveyed on a range of about 60 factors influencing workplace satisfaction, with the goal of describing the extent to which their organization “creates a Great Place to Work for all.” Previous surveys have asked employees about trust, career fulfillment, innovation, values and leadership effectiveness. Companies who entered were also all required to meet the minimum standards to become “certified” by Great Place to Work.
The annual list is published in Fortune. Activated Insights, which is based out of the Great Place to Work corporate campus in San Francisco, assembles the aging services list each year.
Keeping morale high
Brightview President Dollenberg credits the company’s employees for its back-to-back accolades.
“The strength of our company and the satisfaction of our residents rests solely in the hands of our dedicated and enthusiastic associates,” Dollenberg said. “We have an incredible and talented team, and that has been demonstrated repeatedly throughout the pandemic as everyone has responded with courage, commitment, energy, and compassion for each other.”
For Carlsbad, California-based Continuing Life — which leapt from the No. 16 spot among large providers in 2019 to the No. 2 in 2020 — the ranking is especially meaningful, given all of the challenges Covid-19 has created this year. Continuing Life took steps to maintain workplace satisfaction at the outset of the pandemic, such as by committing to a policy of no layoffs, furloughs or reduced hours for employees, regardless of declining occupancy. The company also offered its employees free meals, a $200 weekly stipend for childcare assistance and opportunities to shop for essential items such as toilet paper.
“We are thrilled to be recognized as a Great Place to Work for the 3rd year in a row, and extremely proud that 95% of employees felt theirs was a ‘physically safe place to work’ in spite of taking the survey in May 2020, a time of heightened anxiety and uncertainty due to Covid-19,” said Continuing Life Principal Warren Spieker. “We remain committed to continued safety and engagement for all residents and employees and appreciate the trust all these constituents have given us.”
Other providers on the list took similar steps to keep employees engaged and feeling well during the pandemic.
Early on in the pandemic, Summit Vista relied on constant communication to stay ahead. The community’s leadership met seven days a week for three months straight.
“You cannot over communicate in a time of so much uncertainty and fear,” Erickson said. “And I think that an important part is the authenticity in the communication.”
Summit Vista also implemented new staffing strategies and held morale-boosting events for employees at the outset of the pandemic. These included creating new flexible work schedules and hiring a beloved food truck. The community’s teams also played lighthearted pranks on one another to keep the workplace fun. And, when the going got tough, Summit Vista’s leadership pitched in to help.
“All of leadership did multiple shifts in culinary arts, housekeeping, and the front desk,” Erickson said. “There was huge value in working shoulder-to-shoulder for 8 to 10 hours for both the leadership team members and our front line colleagues — checking in, helping out, letting employees know that we are in this together for each other and our residents.”
Overall, employee trust did decline between 2019 and 2020, according to this year’s survey. With the pandemic in the foreground, Great Place to Work’s employee Trust Index survey scores declined an average of 1.5 points on a 1-to-100 scale this year compared to 2019.
But that decline was not the same among all types of senior living providers. For assisted living providers, Trust Index scores dropped from an average of 76 in 2019 to 73 in 2020, according to the data. Memory care provider scores fell from 74 in 2019 to 72 in 2020, and independent living scores hovered at 79, representing no change between 2019 and 2020.
This year’s rankings come out against a backdrop of ongoing workforce-related challenges in turnover and hiring, which pre-dated the pandemic. Senior living providers hoped that Covid-19 might ease some of these issues, with more people seeking work. But, that has not transpired and recently, hiring displaced retention as the top labor-related challenge in the sector, according to findings from senior living workforce software and services provider OnShift.
Companies featured in this article:
Brightview Senior Living, Careline Health Group, Carlton Senior Living, Citadel Healthcare, Continuing Life, Embrace Living Communities, Holiday Retirement, Life Care Services, MBK Senior Living, Silverado Senior Living, Summit Vista, The Springs Living, Trilogy Health Services, Wesley Enhanced Living, WesleyLife