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COVID-19 Series Ep. 3: How to encourage your team with Anthony Ormsbee-Hale

Bridge the Gap Senior Living Podcast COVID-19 Series Ep. 3: How to encourage your team with Anthony Ormsbee-Hale.

This series is designed to provide resources, share the love stories and encourage those who are overseeing the care of aging adults during the COVID-19 pandemic. We believe in you!

Lucas: Welcome to Bridge the Gap on the COVID-19 special series that we’re doing right now, bringing on great thought leaders in the industry to talk to you about updated information about the world surrounding COVID-19 and senior living today. We have on Anthony Ormsbee-Hale. Thank you so much for being on the program.

Anthony: Yeah, thank you so much guys for allowing me to join you and it’s always nice to be with the Bridge the Gap group.

Lucas: Absolutely man. So Anthony, as our listeners may know, you’re an alumni to the podcast. The last time we were together was last year at the Argentum conference. We were able to sit face to face. Today in these circumstances, a little bit different and so we’re going to be talking about the topics specifically surrounding how to encourage your teammates during this challenging time. Anthony, walk us through a couple of tactical and practical things that Civitas and you and your team are doing to encourage people.

Anthony: Yeah, absolutely. So, you know, I think for us it boils down to three main points. The first making sure that our employees feel like they have a personal connection with us and with their direct manager. We know from our great place to work survey that 91% of our employees feel that their job has a special purpose, a special meaning. But we also know that they create a personal relationship with their manager in a time like this. They want to know that they have somebody there that they can count on for continued support. Throughout this whole process. We all have been through a major life shifts as we’ve adjusted to Coronavirus and that change can be very difficult for some people. And so making sure that our employees, our managers are connecting with every member of their team. And the way that that lives out for us is helping our employees personally prepare for something like this.

And that’s a unique response to every employee. If an employee has childcare needs, for example, how can we help them identify support and resources in their local community so that they can continue to have that need met and, and come to work knowing that their child is in safe hands and that’s looks differently in multiple locations. The other is helping them prepare for crisis that can occur. You know, even though Coronavirus is consuming everything that we talk about right now we know that life goes on to flat tires. They’ll happen. You know, you still got to get groceries and diapers and all of these things that continue to happen in the midst of coronavirus. And so we’ve been very fortunate to wait to have an employee assistance program to help the employees identify resources for those needs.

And I know a lot of other operators have a similar program like that as well. But how refreshing is it to know that if something goes wrong in my daily life, I can pick up the phone, I can talk somebody who understands what’s going on and when I come to work because we know that employees bring their personal issues and situations to work with them. I know I do. I can talk with my manager and say, Hey, this is what’s going on in my life and what can we do about that? And sometimes we can help. And that’s really refreshing. The second thing is making sure that we are promoting and increasing intelligence in our decision making. And for us, it’s, you know, where are people getting their information? We know, and this rapidly evolving digital age that there’s a lot of information out there. Sometimes it’s not correct. And so, you know, examples of that could be if it’s schools or cities or counties are considering a shutdown. If I read about a post on Facebook because someone overheard something in the grocery store that can cause a lot of panic and could have serious business impacts for us. So we want to help our employees identify where are we getting our information so that we’re making accurate decisions, but also where can they get information about their, their home and their community so that they can stay aware and stay prepared. And the third, I think is, you know, making sure that we continue to keep the business moving that we continue to devote time to training new employees. As somebody who personally loves change, you know, I thrive off of that circumstance. We know that there’s a lot of change going on right now.

And so, you know, what are some ways that we can innovate in the business that we’re doing and we’re rethinking a lot of processes. You know, for example, I think interviewing is one process that all a lot of operators have had to rethink. We can no longer allow people to come into our community. So how do we transition to phone and video interviews and do that in a way that’s efficient and meaningful for people? And I’ve seen a lot of different operators who make that switch very rapidly and that comes, that needs to come with a lot of training for our employees. And the third I think is creating a safe place for employees to voice new ideas. As our employees continue to respond to the needs of our residents, they are going to have ideas about ways that operators can support them through enhanced processes and services. And so again, it goes back to that personal relationship with the manager, making sure that we’re creating that safe space for an employee to come and say, Hey, I have this idea that I think could really make us a better and more efficient place to work.

Josh: That’s all such good stuff. And a lot to talk about there. You know, one of my questions relating to preparedness and how you as an organization have planned for these types of things. I don’t think any organization was quite prepared for this. But then in helping your team members be prepared how has this impacted for example call outs? I heard several other operators that were asked a similar question and surprisingly the answer that we’ve been hearing, I wanted to know if you are seeing the same thing is that a lot of call outs have actually gone down during this time and the teams seem to be rallying together. Are you sensing that and seeing that as well?

Anthony: Yeah, absolutely. You know, I talk to 10 to 15 of our communities that day. I’m just going through and checking that pulse for employees and you know, I think as I mentioned, life continues to happen and, and we adjust to that. But I think this is a time where a lot of people in senior living have reconnected with our mission of being able to serve the people that we love and care about. And so you know, for me it’s, it’s almost heroic. When I see people do that, I saw a really great post the other day of NRC employees going out and cheering on caregivers. And for me, I think there’s, this has been a really great time. I know for me personally to reconnect with the mission of senior living to serve our residents. And I think that’s what’s feeling a lot of our employees to continue to show up everyday and make that personal sacrifice.

Josh: Totally agree. Can you give us some practical things that you’re seeing the different communities that you serve doing? We hear a lot about one of the big challenges as always, but especially right now with teams, many of them having to work more hours and schools being out that childcare is a big issue. Are there any creative ideas that are forming and solutions around childcare for the laborers?

Anthony: You know, I’ve heard of really great examples from other operators where the story came out about Dominion and their response with childcare needs. We’ve seen a lot of employees who have, you know, created opportunities for each other to provide childcare so that they continue to get their shifts met. There was one operator that on the Argentum HR round table calls, we’ve talked about renting spaces to provide childcare. So for me, I think those are really great solutions to that. One of the questions that I asked at the Argentum HR round table call and that I want to put out to the group is, you know, also considering what are we doing for our caregivers that have elderly parents that they care for? You know, that’s probably a lesser need right now then the number of our employees who have childcare needs. But I think it’s something that needs a conversation to happen and I think it’s going to be something that continues to play into the benefits that operators offer post coronavirus.

Josh: Touch on another topic, Anthony. One of your areas of expertise is in attracting and recruiting team members to our industry, to your places of work. As we’re moving through this and a lot of people are losing their jobs, sadly across the country in a lot of industries. In particular some of the hospitality and restaurant businesses I know are getting hit very hard right now. Do you see our industry as being an opportunity a growing opportunity to be able to place some of those people with our growing needs?

Anthony: Yeah, absolutely. I think, you know, we all know the benefits of a career in senior living and I think this is a perfect opportunity for us to share that with others. And, you know, it’s incredibly unfortunate. There is an interview that I was watching the other day on CNN where a cook who lives in New York because, you know, this is the first time I’ve been unemployed in 30 years. And honestly, I don’t know what to do. And I think when I think about people in hospitality and I think about the experiences I’ve had at really great restaurants and hotels, for me it’s, they’re connected to almost the same mission of creating these really incredible experiences for people. And so I think we have an opportunity to really, to help them understand that you can create those experiences for people that you get to have longterm relationships with in senior living.

And again, for me that’s a beautiful thing to do. And I think it’s unfortunate that this is caused that increase in unemployment, but senior living has a really great opportunity to promote our career longevity. You know, we’re only going to need more people as we, as people continue to age in the country and, and there’s a lot of opportunity for operators to create those entryways for people. I know that there’s already some great work going on right now just to make sure that people know what their options are.

Lucas: Anthony, there’s a lot of questions swirling around from from our industry and from inside and outside. What are some of the, what’s one of the top questions that you guys are hearing from in operations back to the management and leadership?

Anthony: Yes, that’s a great question. So, you know, I think for us, our employees want to know you know, just what we’ve done to prepare and we’ve done a great job of communicating that. And, you know, and I think industry wide, we’ve, I’ve seen a lot of operators really take on those strong communication approaches with residents and family members, but also making sure that, you know, we take the time to talk to our employees about the precautions that we’re taking about the plans that we have and making sure that they understand the business as well and how that continues to operate. So, especially in this time of uncertainty where people are concerned about losing their jobs. I think promoting that senior living as a place of strengths and making sure that they understand that operators are doing the best that they can to, to make good decisions with the information that we have.

Lucas: Yeah. And you know, Josh, let’s thinking on a positive note here. There’s so many challenges and we’ve talked about it over and over that this industry, the senior living industry, we really believe is equipped to rise to this challenge that we’re facing. And you know, you see the posts like NRC and the We Believe campaign where we are rolling out, you know, new hashtags of join us and that we believe in the people that are working in this business. You know, Anthony, you’ve been a part of that. What’s one of the love stories out there right now that has inspired you in your team?

Anthony: Yeah, absolutely. Just the other day I saw a post where there’s an executive director that I know who plays the piano every Thursday during resident happy hour. Of course their communities are on quarantine and residents are in their room. But I didn’t stop the activity team from, you know, distributing beverages and he had his piano in the hallway and continued to play so that residents could hear him. And for me, it was such a great way for him to continue to provide that continuity and that routine for his residents. But also I think, you know, we have to focus on the positive here. We have to focus on the good news that, you know, we will get through this. And I think that that’s a great way for him to to promote that. So, that really touched me just cause I’m a big believer in the power of music and, and positivity, but also, you know, knowing that we have to sometimes adjust our routines, but those routines are really important to us to continue moving forward.


Josh: I love it. I love that story. And Lucas and I I think a lot of people saw, it went viral. And it’s just another great testament and we’re seeing those as more and more of our industry is sharing those stories. And I’m very hopeful. All of us that are in the industry or people that have loved ones in the industry know the wonderful things that happen in our industry. And I think it’s times like this when it is a difficult time, but when the spotlight is being cast in the way that it is on our industry because of this population that we serve, we have an awesome opportunity to shine. And Anthony, thank you for what you’re doing. Thank you for your commitment. Thank you for taking time away from your very busy schedule to speak with us and it’s always great to have you on the show.

Anthony: Yeah, absolutely. Thank you guys for the opportunity and thank you for, you know, for playing such an important role in that positivity. I know when I need a break, Bridge the Gap is the first podcast I play whenever I need a chance to kind of relax and catch up with what everyone else is doing. So thanks for making this a great resource.

Lucas: You got it, buddy. Thank you so much and thank you for everybody that’s listening right now. We hope that this information has been encouraging to you, that’s been educational to you. And please reach out to us. We’ll make sure that we connect with Anthony and especially Civitas. Thank you to Civitas for all the information that you guys are helping put out. Even with Argentum and many others you know, the state of Texas. So thank you guys so much. And we’re rooting for everybody and we believe in you here at bridge the gap. All of our team is thinking about you, so thanks everybody. Have a great day and thanks for listening to Bridge the Gap.

Thanks for listening to this episode of Bridge the Gap podcast, the COVID-19 series. If you are company, community or caregivers are going above and beyond in their daily duties, we want to hear about it. Tag BTG, voice on social media, or send us a message

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COVID-19 Series Ep. 3: How to encourage your team with Anthony Ormsbee-Hale