Leaders at Life Plan Communities have always known that disengaged employees–those who resist organizational change and have little passion for the mission of the campus or for the residents–negatively impact other employees and the overall community culture. Holleran, a research company specializing in the collection of employee and resident engagement and satisfaction data, has discovered a negative relationship between disengaged employees and resident engagement.

“This finding gives campus leaders another compelling reason to reduce the number of disengaged employees in their workforce. Their negative impact on residents’ ability to find personal fulfillment is now substantiated by empirical research,” states Michele Holleran, CEO. Fewer disengaged employees on campus translates into higher resident engagement; personal fulfillment, having a voice, making vital connections to others and an overall sense of well-being.

Holleran studied its national benchmark scores for both resident and employee engagement to discover this new and important finding. The research firm talked with top-ranked Wesley Ridge, a campus located in Reynoldsburg, Ohio to learn how it achieved scores in the 99th percentile of the Holleran national benchmark. According to Dawn Schaffner, The Wesley Communities’ chief operating officer, the high resident engagement score is a direct result of the campus’ low employee disengagement score.

At Wesley Ridge, only 10% of the employee base is considered “disengaged”, compared to an industry average of 25%, as measured by Holleran. One key to lowering employee disengagement is to adopt an intentional model of social interaction between employees and residents. Schaffner believes that when employees and residents connect deeply with each other, residents feel a heightened sense of engagement, resulting in greater personal fulfillment and connection. “The outdated notion of keeping a professional distance between residents and employees is being challenged by our findings,” states Michele Holleran.

Wesley Ridge residents and employees actively participate in each other’s lives. As an example, Schaffner relates that the dining services staff is comprised of many high school seniors. At prom time, those employees visit residents to show off their gowns and introduce their dates prior to heading to the dance. Another illustration of the close bond between employees and residents is the Employee Emergency Fund which was created by residents to provide money to employees and their families when adverse financial circumstances or life events arise. Encouraging deep connection between residents and employees reduces disengagement among both groups. “This symbiotic relationship can create a positive overall culture of engagement on Life Plan Campuses,” believes Holleran.