On the Town

On the town
Rewarding-and maintaining-a top-quality staff
On a lovely May morning in 2004, a limousine rolled to a stop and we all piled in-off to Manhattan for a Broadway matinee and dinner. But that day no one wore a prom dress or tuxedo. Clambering onto the limo’s fancy leather seats and exploring its built-in bar were the department heads of our facility, Glen Cove Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation located in Glen Cove, Long Island, New York. As delightful as a carefree day in the City can be, the expenses-paid excursion for employees was, in truth, a thoughtful and effective representation of Glen Cove Center’s visionary philosophy for success.

As more nursing facilities scramble to admit a shrinking number of potential residents, many have developed a clinical niche hoping to attract specialized clientele. Although this strategy might find moderate success, administrators often fail to invest in the most critical capital resource a skilled nursing facility harbors-its staff. This investment does not require sending staff off on costly adventures. On the most basic level, a determined effort to treat all employees with the respect they deserve will yield extensive and immeasurable benefits. No facility can function properly without a dedicated staff, so endeavoring to make the facility as wonderful a workplace for them as it is a home for the residents satisfies everyone involved.

At Glen Cove Center, employee raffles, giveaways, and achievement rewards make work more enticing and inspire workers at every level to do their best job. The trip to New York City was, for example, a reward for our facility’s third consecutive perfect Department of Health survey. By investing in our own employees and keeping the staff eager to work hard, we ensure that their care for residents and sensitivity to residents’ needs remain authentic.

But working hard shouldn’t only be the result of some tangible reward hovering temptingly in the future. Employees work to their level of expectation. Reminding staff that they work in a facility of distinction instills a sense of pride and value. It keeps standards high and motivates them to adhere to those standards. Keeping the staff engaged in their work and happy with their workplace is the best strategy for success.

Management research acknowledges money and prizes as motivators, but continually emphasizes recognition as the most important and powerful form of encouragement. Like many facilities, Glen Cove Center recognizes an employee of the month for outstanding performance-but every opportunity to acknowledge workers and make them feel important should be seized. If employees feel like members of an elite team and not like drones, their attitude will reflect this distinction. Also, hosting an annual and elaborate parent-child day, with a full spectrum of activities for staff members’ children ages 5 to 12, continues to be an extremely successful event at Glen Cove Center. The kids enjoy an entertaining tour of the facility, arts and crafts, a barbecue lunch, and a dance party with a DJ-but the event is simply another occasion to remind employees of Glen Cove Center’s devotion to them.

Another facility responsibility is to foster healthy relationships between staff members; employees who know each other well are better prepared to make adaptive, cooperative decisions. If workers know and like their colleagues, they are more likely to enjoy their day and work efficiently.

As the employees piled out of the limousine late in the evening that day in May, they didn’t just take empty champagne bottles with them. They took away wonderful memories and a sense of camaraderie that will be forever associated with (however strange the phrase may sound) a great time at work.

Jill Smoller is Administrator at Glen Cove Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation, Glen Cove, New York (the 2003 OPTIMA Award winner). For further information, call (516) 671-9010. To send your comments to the author and editors, please e-mail smoller0305@nursinghomesmagazine.com. To order reprints in quantities of 100 or more, call (866) 377-6454.

Topics: Articles , Facility management , Staffing