How Creating a Positive Workplace Culture Can Help Your Senior Care Facility Thrive


Jill McGroarty, Director of Human Resources at Maplewood Senior Living

A workplace culture can affect everything from employee satisfaction to performance. A positive workplace culture can attract the types of employees you want, while a negative culture can make it difficult to attract the types of employees you need to thrive. Given that workplace culture can also affect resident care, it’s essential to focus on this element of a senior care organization. 

How Management Can Create a Positive Culture

Jill McGroarty, Director of Human Resources at Maplewood Senior Living, explains that culture affects many elements of a senior living organization. “Workplace culture is the environment created for employees and it determines performance, employee relationships, satisfaction and progression,” she says. “This is why the leadership at Maplewood Senior Living has always emphasized the importance of creating an environment where associates feel cared for, valued and celebrated. This has a positive impact on employee engagement and improves resident care.”

She notes that management plays a big role in company culture. Maplewood Senior Living fosters an environment where associates feel valued through “commemorating milestones and accomplishments of all sizes, and providing top-tier benefits and opportunities for advancement. “Another big component is actively listening to what employees want and need,” says McGroarty. “Associates are the lifeblood of the organization and our biggest asset. We want to make sure we are always listening to their feedback through formal and informal processes, so we can create the best environment for them to thrive.”

Strategies for Creating Workplace Culture

McGroarty notes that a company’s workplace culture needs to stem from clearly identified values. “At the most basic level, it is important to always treat employees with respect and courtesy,” she says. “This is the best way to build trust, encourage relationship building and recognize the hands-on nature of the work that our associates perform.”

Maplewood Senior Living uses several unique strategies to establish that respect and courtesy. Those include an anonymous tip line for staff to reveal concerns. The organization also hosts scheduled “Donuts & Dialogue” meetings between human resources and employees to establish conversation and identify areas of concern and progress. Additionally, the organization hosts special activities for employees to share important messages, and to celebrate service anniversaries, birthdays, and award winners. 

The culture also needs to reflect the company’s vision and mission. “Tools like the employee handbook, orientation and onboarding documents, website, employee portals and various communication channels are all means of conveying this,” explains McGroarty. “However, a workplace culture must be embodied by the leadership team to reinforce the written language and to give the statements credibility and meaning.”

It’s also essential that the culture be present in the entire company, and top management needs to demonstrate that culture. “Engaging, respectful behavior must be modeled and consistent throughout the organization,” she says. 

She notes that organizations often make the mistake of trying to implement values that don’t resonate with employees. Open dialogue and communication can help leadership to better understand employee concerns and deliver solutions that best allow staff to thrive. 

Taking the time to deliberately address and shape workplace culture can pay off in multiple ways, and it’s well worth the effort, McGroarty explains. “A well-established culture will create a solid foundation and lead to increased employee engagement, decreased turnover, effective onboarding and a strong company image.”

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