• Life Care Services

Boosting Senior Living Employee Retention with Training and Skill Development

May 31, 2024
One of the biggest challenges in the senior living industry today is attaining and retaining employees. Here’s how to reduce employee turnover with cost-effective skill development and appreciation strategies.
Caregiver escorting a resident along a pathway at a senior living community

Employee turnover in the senior living industry is a well-documented challenge that senior living providers must address if they want to be successful. In a 2022 report from NIC, the annual turnover rate of senior living employees was 85%, understaffing can lead to burnout and frustration among existing employees. This negative feedback loop can be devastating, impacting patient care and resulting in potential liability costs.

Providing more competitive pay, benefits, positive work culture and standardized hours are among the most common ways to reduce employee turnover in this industry. However, employee retention can also be improved through the creation of cost-effective training and skill development programs. This includes coaching and mentorship efforts, as well as requesting and acting on employee feedback.

Here are some ways to apply these strategies at your own senior living community to boost engagement and improve employee retention. 

Personalized Training Programs 

Investments in personalized training programs not only give employees more confidence in their roles, but signal that your organization is dedicated to their advancement and success. Training programs should be developed in conversation with each employee. Ask about their challenges, frustrations, and career goals. Map these to the skills you see as essential to their position, be it caregiving or hospitality services. 

Consider both hard skills (such as how to engage with a confused memory care resident or follow a regulatory requirement) and soft skills like resident and interpersonal communication. Map out clear objectives and timelines. Ensure that you celebrate when goals are reached and offer praise and recognition where appropriate. Fostering a culture of positivity where employees are valued and celebrated can go a long way to improving employee retention.    

Coaching and Mentorship  

Employees who feel disconnected from their colleagues are more likely to leave. In fact, isolation and a lack of meaningful connections at work is one of the top reasons that people quit. Promote stronger working relationships by implementing mentorship and coaching programs. Connecting more experienced employees with new hires can foster a sense of belonging and help form lasting bonds. Those seeking to advance can also benefit from mentors who can support them through challenges and share their operational knowledge. 

When onboarding a new hire, or as part of an employee’s review, establish clear career pathways. Demonstrating opportunities for career progression and advancement within the organization shows them that you are committed to promoting internal talent and fostering growth. This, in turn, enhances loyalty and reduces employee turnover.  

Continuous Learning Opportunities 

Another way to boost employee loyalty is to invest in or provide on the job training and learning opportunities. Consider planning quarterly workshops where employees share their knowledge, hosting guest speakers in your industry, offering access to online courses, or sponsoring certifications relevant to senior care positions. 

In-person learning is especially impactful, as it promotes that all important sense of community and strengthens team bonds. This also ensures that your employees’ knowledge remains up to date as it relates to internal policies, regulations, and best practices in senior care. 


Burnout is endemic in the senior living industry. Cross-training is a great way to give employees the opportunity to learn and experience new roles and responsibilities—without losing them to a competitor. This gives you the added bonus of providing operational flexibility due to staffing shortages, allowing employees to work in dual roles. 

This also minimizes disruption for your residents, and reduces the need for external or temporary hires to fill a short gap in coverage. Make cross-training a part of your employee’s quarterly and yearly growth plans. Always ensure you work with your employee to identify areas that interest them.  

Gather and Incorporate Feedback 

The best way to understand your employees and their needs is to speak with them directly. This means scheduling opportunities to address challenges and vent frustrations. If you are waiting to conduct employee feedback during an exit interview, it will be too late. Employees want to be heard. If they do not feel heard, they will share their frustrations in other ways, among one another and in online reviews of your organization. Negative reviews and word of mouth can impact your ability to attract and hire additional talent.

Ultimately, boosting employee retention is about creating a positive feedback loop that attracts qualified candidates. Being kind, supportive and empathetic to employees and their goals can go a long way toward creating a workplace that people love and are less likely to leave. 

Improving Employee Retention with LCS

If your community is being impacted by understaffing or high turnover rates, Life Care Services, An LCS company, can help. We have over a half century of experience in connecting communities with the resources they need to expand and elevate their offerings. Contact us at 515-642-1744, or complete the contact form below.

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