How Senior Care Communities Are Increasing Employee Flexibility


Abby Figueroa, senior vice president of functional operations, Atria

With more and more employees seeking flexibility in their work arrangements, many senior living communities have sought ways to provide that flexibility. That flexibility comes in many forms, from scheduling flexibility to offering multiple career advancement paths. We spoke with two senior care communities that have made a deliberate effort to increase staff flexibility and are seeing positive results.

Atria Senior Living, Inc.

Abby Figueroa, Senior Vice President of Functional Operations at Atria, explains that in today’s tight labor market, Atria has worked to model its hiring process and community shift schedules to complement today’s senior living employee’s needs. “Fortunately, we’re finding that applicants’ ears perk up when they hear about our flexible scheduling and career advancement opportunities,” she says.

With a focus on caregiving as a 24/7 responsibility, Atria’s hiring model gives caregivers the option to choose different shifts. “Atria caregivers may be raising their kids, furthering their education, or caring for their own friends and parents outside of work,” she explains. “Our staff can see and switch shifts via the mobile Kronos app so it’s easy when team members need to rearrange their schedules. It’s a win-win situation when employees have a schedule that supports their life outside of work.”

Atria also uses SMS texting to keep teams up-to-date about career enhancement opportunities within the organization. Staff have access to many career advancement and training opportunities. “I started at Atria as an accountant, and once I realized how my skills could translate into making a real difference in our residents’ lives, one door after another was wide open,” says Figueroa.

She explains that staff are encouraged to talk with their supervisor and discuss what the next chapter of their career might be. Tuition reimbursement and training opportunities can help staff to get the cross-training or even the different degree that their desired career path might require.

“I hear from staff members who have worked for Atria for 10, 15, 20 years that the reason they stay is, first, because of the residents they serve and the way they feel supported and invested in,” says Figueroa. “It’s amazing when an employee uncovers new talents or grows their skills. Then, they come to work as a more fulfilled human.”

Alavida Lifestyles

Haisam Sourchi

Haisam Sourchi, regional general manager, Alavida Lifestyles

Haisam Sourchi, Regional General Manager of Alavida Lifestyles, was previously the organization’s General Manager. He explains that, in effort to retain staff during the pandemic, the organization offered benefits to some part-time staff who didn’t have a full-time job. The benefits allowed the staff to retain their jobs and avoid having to rely on government funding and benefits. Alavida Lifestyles started to offer those benefits around July of 2020, and has continued to do so since then.

“The retirement industry is very competitive with the hospital industry,” explains Sourchi. “The hospital industry did offer benefits to some part-time associates. We wanted to be on that same level and give staff something that would keep them with us.”

Those efforts were successful. Sourchi notes that during the height of the pandemic, Alavida Lifestyles only lost two staff members to other facilities. “The rest stayed with us,” he says. “We were very proud of that.”

In addition to extending those benefits offerings, Alavida Lifestyles also held daily meetings with staff every morning during the pandemic. During those meetings, the organization discussed how much PPE it had and gave staff a sense of security. Those meetings lasted for a year and a half.

The feedback to that flexibility has been positive, and employees have said thank you for the flexibility and explained that they love working at Alavida Lifestyles.

By adjusting their benefits offerings, Alavida Lifestyles was able to give staff a key element that they needed in order to continue their employment. Sourchi highlights the importance of senior care organizations taking care of their staff. “People are so focused on the customer, but are not focused on their staff,” he says. “The only way customers are satisfied is through your staff.”

Staff are increasingly seeking more flexibility. Senior care organizations can provide this flexibility in many ways, and with a little creativity, they can show staff that they’re listening to their requests and are dedicated to supporting them.

Topics: Administration , Featured Articles , Staffing , Training