A recent article from SMARTNews stated that what employees want more than anything else is to feel appreciated for their work.

You may be asking yourself if this finding applies specifically to employees who work in a senior living environment. The short answer? Yes, it does.

How can we be so sure? Well, at Sensight Surveys, we’ve been surveying senior living employees for 15 years. These surveys consistently reveal two universal truths:

  1. Recognition and praise for a job well done is the number one driver of engagement and intention to stay for employees working in senior living communities.
  2. While feeling recognized is critical to their happiness, senior living employees report lower levels of satisfaction with recognition than other areas.

Now for the good news. This insight is not just academic. You can use it to make meaningful changes in your senior living workplace—changes that will result in a happier, more productive team.

Sensight Surveys recently talked face-to-face with a large group of employees working in a senior care environment. We wanted to know what recognition at work looks like to them as well as what their bosses could do to provide meaningful recognition.

We discovered that recognition comes in two basic forms: formal and informal. Examples of formal recognition include pay raises, bonuses, employee of the month plaques, employee anniversary parties, and on-time performance appraisals.

Informal recognition occurs in the moment. It includes simple gestures like a pat on the back, a spontaneous thank you, being called out for good work by peers, or a supervisor who asks a coworker to assist when s/he sees an employee who is overly busy.

These discussions taught us that senior living employees truly appreciate both kinds of recognition.

Now for the really good news. Evidence suggests that providing formal and informal recognition to senior living employees positively affects their engagement and retention levels.

Click on the two charts below. These outcomes are based on responses from approximately 4,000 senior living employees surveyed in 2015.


The beneficial outcome we hope to see when we survey these same employees in 2016 is higher retention, better customer service scores, and less effort and spending on hiring and training new employees.

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