In assisted living and memory care communities, a retention plan for your nursing staff (including CNAs) is an essential part of remaining profitable (or staying in the black if you’re a nonprofit operation). That’s not news to most nursing directors or executive directors.
The tricky party is what to include in that nursing retention plan. We’ve made the argument before that improving the technology in your community can lower staff turnover. Now we’re going to dive a bit more into the idea that you should think of technology upgrades as part of your larger nursing retention plan.
The Generational Case for Technology as a Retention Tool
The peak for Baby Boomers in the workforce happened back in 1997, according to the Pew Research Center, though they were still the biggest generational group until the early 2010s. At that point, Gen Xers squeaked ahead of them. But since 2016, Millennials (those born between 1980 and 1997) have been the single largest group in the workforce.
Today, Millennials account for about 35 percent of working Americans, Gen Xers make up 33 percent, and Baby Boomers account for just 25 percent. We’re also starting to see some post-Millennial workers (which some folks call Gen Z) enter.
Why does this matter? Because Millennials and every generation after them after are so-called digital natives. Older Millennials grew up with computers in the house and were introduced to the Internet in elementary or middle school. The youngest Millennials were just 11 when the first iPhone went on the market.
As you might expect, research about Millennial workers shows that they’re sensitive to technology in the workplace. A recent study conducted by Yello, a company that makes talent-acquisition software for recruiters, found that one in five Millennial job seekers would turn down a job because of a company’s lack of technology.
Translation: if you want your community to appeal to the largest sector of the workforce, having up-to-date technology matters.
The CNA-Specific Case for Tech as a Retention Tool
A 2017 paper on retaining CNAs in assisted living communities and other long-term care facilities cites a nationwide turnover rate of CNAs working in nursing homes at 50 percent, with some facilities experiencing turnover rates of 100 percent.
Couple that with the finding that 65 percent of CNAs are always actively looking for job alternatives and 97 percent are open to a better job offer at any given time, and there’s a clear case that administrators need a retention plan.
How does technology fit in?
Job satisfaction correlates with retention: employees who are most satisfied at work are least likely to look for other jobs or be receptive to offers from other employers.
And our research shows that adopting an electronic health records (EHR) system can increase job satisfaction. In addition, having EHR technology can improve staff productivity, make it easier to maintain regulatory compliance, and even increase employee retention.
In other words, updated technology (like what an EHR system offers) can make the work experience better for CNAs and other nursing staff. That improved work experience can improve job satisfaction and decrease turnover rates.
Technology as Part of a Bigger Retention Picture
Of course, transitioning to an EHR system isn’t a silver bullet for improving turnover rates at an assisted living facility. Creating a better work environment is important, but technology is just one part of that. Salaries matter. Providing opportunities for career advance matters. Creating an environment that’s pleasant and rewarding matters a lot.
Technology solutions like EHR systems will not instantly solve high CNA turnover rates. But as part of a larger nursing retention plan, they can help keep your staff engaged and productive while sending the message that you care about investing in making your community a rewarding place to work for the long term.
Further, if you’re looking to make a financial case for transitioning your community to EHR, factoring in the technology’s ability to reduce turnover may help tip the scales in your favor. Turnover is unpleasant for nearly everyone involved, and it’s also expensive. Finding ways to reduce those costs – especially when those ways involve investing in something you were already considering – can have significant impact.
If you’d like more information about how an EHR can reduce turnover at your facility, don’t hesitate to get in touch.