As senior living organizations strive to meet the high expectations of today’s residents, more and more are asking how they can improve their culture — specifically their culture of Resident Engagement. Culture change strategies derived from the hospitality and entertainment industries are trending, but many organizations are quick to adopt a strategy without a solid foundation. Recent research from Holleran’s national database shows clear evidence that resident engagement is inextricably linked to employee engagement. A highly engaged team is the necessary foundation to building a strong culture of resident engagement.

The senior living industry’s only Resident Engagement measurement tool for Independent Living communities, launched by Holleran in 2017, provides actionable data and analysis on community culture and service priorities in supporting residents’ successful aging. This new Resident Engagement model identifies four key domains of engagement: 1) Voice, 2) Connection, 3) Fulfillment, and 4) Well-Being.

The ability to achieve higher levels of Resident Engagement at an Independent Living community appears to be influenced by the amount of disengagement felt by its employees. Specifically, the Community’s overall Resident Engagement score declines at a rate of 0.12 (on a 5-point scale) for every 10 percentage point increase in the proportion of Resistors within its staff (p<.05). The Holleran database shows that, on average, 24% of employees are categorized as Resistors – the most disengaged employee group. These individuals are considered whiners, naysayers, and possibly even detrimental; threatening the culture and progress of your organization. The current research suggests that the disservice of such individuals on your staff extends to the culture of resident engagement.

“Seeing this statistical connection with our early resident engagement data is really exciting” explains Erica Cavanaugh, Holleran’s Director of Research. “The idea that there is a connection between how engaged a Community’s employees are and the satisfaction of its residents has been talked about as an assumption, a hypothesis, for years, but we weren’t able to show this through the data of our typical resident satisfaction survey results. The finding that the proportion of employee Resistors can predict the level of resident engagement within a community is support not only of this long-standing assumption, but also evidence that our new resident engagement survey is truly tapping into the broader culture of senior living communities, beyond the basic elements of satisfaction.”

The ROI of investing in strategies to improve employee engagement are usually calculated in terms of improvements in turnover and retention. This link to resident engagement adds greater evidence that an active employee engagement program is no longer optional, it’s a necessity.