When we talk about cross-training in the Senior Living workplace, we don’t mean athletic training or improving physical fitness. While fitness is important, we’re referring to the practice of training in more than one role or skill. The practice of cross-training employees has always been a popular way to expand workforce capabilities and optimize resource utilization. Today, it’s a central issue in the senior living industry.

The intention of cross-training is to strengthen teams, combat the existing talent shortage, create redundancies in case key members leave or retire, and especially to prepare staff for unforeseen emergencies such as this pandemic.

The COVID pandemic has made the issue of cross-training more urgent. Senior living management and staff have had to adapt to a rapidly changing environment plus, learn how to match their workers to new roles and activities.

While not every position within senior living can be cross-trained, there are great rewards for those that can. There are tangible benefits when you can bring in employees from other areas who know what to do and can pitch in during these challenging times.

Benefits of Cross-Training in Your Workplace

Employee Collaboration: While employees can be experts in one particular area, they could also have a broad working knowledge of other aspects. Collaborating on tasks can help raise the morale of your team and move it to the next level. Collaboration also goes a long way in raising motivation levels especially when things are getting done.

Increased Work Sustainability: Cross-training helps support and sustain your team during tough times. Your team wants to achieve optimal living and working conditions in order to remain at your workplace. By eliminating factors that discourage or hinder workers from staying at your organization, you foster employment and organizational longevity.

Improved Efficiency: Cross-training your workers will expand an employee’s knowledge and skill sets to perform multiple tasks. In turn, this improves productivity, quality, and customer satisfaction.

Filling Last Minute Vacancies: No matter the size of your senior care organization, cross-training can help your company to be more agile and responsive with scheduling and filling last-minute vacancies.

Crossing Over from Hospitality Industry to Senior Living Industry
As this pandemic continues to spread, keeping a full staff has been extremely difficult, and sometimes cross-training your own team isn’t enough. Adding to that dilemma, think about the staffing shortages and high turnover rates that senior care organizations were already experiencing before the pandemic hit. How can the senior living industry navigate this terrain? One solution is to hire hospitality workers.

Just about every bar, restaurant, and hotel across the country has been hit hard by COVID-19 and this is a great time for the Senior Living Industry to hire them! According to a Senior Housing News article, “Senior living providers will no doubt need more workers as Covid-19 continues and since many operators already hire from the hospitality talent pool, why not try to help those laid-off workers get back to work?”

We spoke with Ashley Lodi, Executive Director with a Senior Living Community located in Orlando, Florida, and she agreed and added, “Hospitality and senior living industries totally align since both require a caring heart, compassion for people, and the desire to serve. I would say that furloughed hospitality professionals in culinary, sales, marketing, and management could make an easy transition.”

Ms. Lodi thinks it’s high time to send out an urgent request to all of the nation’s now temporarily (and many permanently) out-of-work hospitality workers to consider employment with senior housing and nursing homes. The skills are readily transferable.

Bottom line is that some senior living communities are currently cross-training their current staff so they can perform different jobs and others are hiring from outside the senior care industry, when viable. While COVID has disrupted business as usual and caused the loss of thousands of jobs in hospitality and other industries, it’s an opportunity for these workers to seriously explore the many jobs needing to be filled in senior living.

Julie Rupenski is the Founder, President & CEO of MedBest, opening the doors in 2001. Since that time, Julie has gained national recognition for providing top talent solutions exclusively for the Senior Living industry. Her specialties include filling C-SuiteVice President, Regional, and Property level positions.
Contact Julie Rupenski at jrupenski@medbest.com / 727-526-1294.