Although the COVID-19 emergency is officially over, Ohio’s senior health care facilities continue to face worker shortages, employee burnout and challenges filling the pipeline with new talent and leadership. At the same time, the region’s senior population continues to grow. At McGregor, a nonprofit provider of a full spectrum of services for seniors, employees are offered a variety of ongoing professional growth opportunities that the organization’s leaders believe is helping them attract and retain staff.
“We invest in our employees at all levels,” says Jennifer Hayes, CFO. “We always take a step back and make sure people are improving.”
One program that McGregor recently developed is its Leadership Academy, which is designed for new managers to gain training. Hayes, along with her colleague, Tangi McCoy, CEO of McGregor’s PACE homecare program, are the two trainers for the Leadership Academy program. Now in its second year, the six-month program aims to promote excellent workers to leadership positions who do not have any previous management experience.
“We had multiple opportunities to promote employees from within who were great employees but who did not have management experience,” explains McCoy. “We chose to train them to be great managers and leaders.”
The Leadership Academy is just one of the ways McGregor invests in employees. Tuition reimbursement after one year of employment, setting developmental goals, seminars, computer training and payment for earning professional certifications are also available.
“The Leadership Academy is just another chance to grow. We try to make it easy for employees to take advantage of learning,” adds Hayes. “With all these options, it makes it hard to not improve and grow your skills each year. People like opportunities for learning.”
A recent McGregor staff survey bears this out. Employees across the board from support staff to aides, nurses and social workers overwhelmingly indicated that continuing training and growth opportunities were a top workplace priority. There was so much interest that the organization is planning to offer additional sessions, and development of that coursework is currently underway.
The Leadership Academy provides unique on-the-job training. Participants take part in a classroom curriculum and receive at-work “homework assignments.” In one assignment, for example, they are asked to provide two new ideas to help their departments run better.
Participants must collaborate with their teams and report back to the class with action plans for two new strategies. As a group, the new managers share feedback, give advice and critique these real-life scenarios.
“Our participants get to utilize what they are learning immediately,” adds Hayes. “It’s reinforced right away. Their homework is on-the-job learning. When you can’t apply it to real life, it can be more difficult to retain the strategies.”
Hayes says that staff development is improving employee retention and reports that rates have significantly increased over the last four years. But ultimately, she says the employee training programs benefit the seniors McGregor serves and drive the organization’s primary goal of providing excellent care.
“I think the training opportunities engage the managers more with McGregor’s culture, creating a more inviting environment,” she says. “When employees are happy where they work, they create a welcoming environment for the residents and participants in our programs.”