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The senior living industry has a voice. You can hear it on Bridge the Gap podcast!

CW 96: Chris Heinz

How you onboard and help in the transitionary period between acceptance and start date WILL make a difference in success and retention.

Senior living recruiting expert and industry champion Chris Heinz shares his insight of helping hundreds of leaders with their hiring processes.

Learn several ways you can ensure your new hire not only starts, but thrives with your company.

Before you’re done with the episode, you’ll hear his Mindset Moment to help create a movement in the Senior Living industry!

Welcome to Bridge the Gap Contributor Wednesday, I’m Chris Heinz. I am back to continue our discussion on recruitment, team building, and mindset. In today’s episode, I want to shift course just a bit. In the past two episodes, we have discussed creating better stories to improve your recruiting efforts. And then last month we discussed speeding up the hiring process to give you the best chance to get the candidate you want to hire. And at the end of each of those episodes, I left you with a short mindset moment from creating a brag to creating a growth mindset. Today, I’m going to first complete our discussion on effective onboarding that we started in the last episode. And then I want to shift to a little longer mindset moment that will be the hopeful creation of a movement. Let’s jump back into the effective onboarding shall we? Let me ask, when does the new employees onboarding process begin?


The answer is simple. The moment they accept the offer. The fact is, if handled poorly, the transition period from when they accept to when they are intended to start, can make the difference in them actually starting. You need to ensure that they have emotionally disconnected from their current company and then emotionally connect with your team and your company. Now, when we work with our client companies to help them fill critical searches, we work very closely with both the hiring manager and candidate to minimize these risks. And unfortunately, the risks are plenty. From the candidate accepting a counter offer and staying with their current company to them accepting another offer from another company entirely.


Now in much of the professional world, the typical notice timeframe is two weeks, but in our senior living world it’s traditionally 30 days. So we have twice the length of potential and anxious moments during this time, there are several things that you can do to minimize the chance of your new employee, not starting when intended. The first is to have a conversation with them about the likelihood that they will receive a counter offer. This is something that we do with our candidates multiple times in the interviewing process. And if you aren’t using a recruiter or talent advisor like myself and my team, then you need to ensure that you have that conversation with them. It is rarely a matter of if they’re going to get a counter, but simply hen. Remind them why you think they are such a great fit for the team and remind them of the potential future that you see them having with the company.


This will help mitigate part of that risk. Secondly, as we discussed last month, show them the love, show them, or send them a congratulations gift. Whether it be company swag, flowers, an edible arrangement, heck an Omaha Steak package, send them something that shows them your appreciation for them, accepting your offer. 

Arrange for at least one to two conversations during the transition period to make sure they don’t have any further questions. And then to update them on a company happening and events. If you are having an event, a meeting, a company outing, something at one of the communities during this transition time, invite them. This will make them feel more connected quicker and will remind them why they chose to join you. Also have others that were involved in the interview process to send them a congratulations email. If you, or one of those involved in the interview, are in the same city as the candidate invite them to have a lunch at least once during the midpoint of the transition. 

All of these suggestions will significantly increase the likelihood that they will actually show up on day one and they’ll help mitigate the risk of a boomerang. No, I’m not talking about the Australian toy that you’d thrown the air, thinking it would come back to you. And I don’t know about you, but it never came back to me when I tried throwing it. Sorry, mom, for breaking that window. But the concept of the boomerang is the same. You’ve done everything right during the transition. You have shown them the love and they’ve actually started with you. But during the next 30 to 60 days is critical. They are the new kid. They don’t know where things are. They don’t know how everything is done at the company. They don’t know who the company jerk is yet. And let’s face it.


We all have one. While they are doing the job that they have been hired to do. They aren’t fully integrated into the company. This is when the former boss, or a former team member reaches out just to see how things are going, see how the new gig is going and that everything is what they thought it would be. They explain that everyone misses them, and they so wish they were still working together. They say in a sad and somber tone as if they wish they could turn back the clock, and they were still together like the good old days, bam. They boomerang back to their previous company, help mitigate that with some of these suggestions. This brings us to the first 90 days on the job. If at all possible, be there with them on their first day. If not you, ensure that they have an ambassador that will be with them during that day and will be there to answer their questions. Set up to have meaningful meetings with them on that first day or worst case by their second day, so that you could give them a big picture overview of the company and your team’s goals, along with how they will contribute to them.


Develop a go-to list of employees that this employee will know to go to with those frequently asked questions. Make sure to introduce them to the staff in a fun and meaningful way. If they are in a community and they have a desk, have company bread and gifts waiting for them on their desk. Even have a plant there. If they are remote, have that welcome packet to them on that very first day. It is a heartwarming thing when they get a ring at their doorbell with a gift from you on that first day, Have somebody, if not yourself, take them to lunch on that first day. This removes one of the biggest awkward moments of a newies first day, where to go to lunch. Next, schedule 15 minute meetings with them weekly during their first month and then monthly for their first six months, just to see how things are going, answer any questions that they have. 

Assign a mentor to them to show them the ropes. Make sure to assign meaningful tasks to them during their first week, instead of throwing a 500 page manual at them, or a couple videos to watch, Provide safe ways for them to ask you questions during their first month, ensure that they have a sit down on with each of the people within their department, and then schedule a meeting with yourself to reinforce the company culture and the communication styles that work best for both of you.


Just think, the last job that you had that you left, if some of these things were done early during your tenure, how would that impacted you? My belief is tremendously, and that’s why we suggest these things to our clients. And that’s why I’m suggesting them to you.


Too many companies hire someone and think, “they’ll just figure it out, or they won’t.” With the job market that we’re in. And the hiring process that many companies you’re dealing with, including most of you, you cannot leave it to chance that this very special person that you’ve spent your time, energy, and money to hire will just figure it out. Now while I could go on and on about all the things that you can do to ensure your higher feel is supported and loved. I think you’ve gotten the point. Now, I like to shift to our mindset moment and this month I’m changing it to our mindset movement. 


I want to talk to you about something that will not, I will repeat will not have an immediate impact on filling your openings. What I want to talk about is something that will help you, your counterparts at other companies, the sales professionals that work to attract residents, the investors. Simply put, it will help everyone in the senior leaving industry. No, it is not a super secret job posting nor the perfect algorithm to magically create all of the team members that you need. But if we all get on board with this one thing long term, it will have a significant impact. What am I talking about you ask? Be an industry champion. You might be asking yourself, what the heck are you talking about Chris, be an industry champion? I’m a sales director. I’m a regional director of operations. I’m a VP. The fact is we all have the ability.


I should say the privilege to share the incredible stories of this industry. The fact is our industry has taken a beating over the last couple of years. During the height of the pandemic, all forms of senior living were lumped into the old category of nursing homes. And every horrific story that could be told was told, but we are in a new time and we have a new opportunity. Again, this is not a short term process. You will not gain immediate respect, notoriety, or even applause for this, but over time you will help those considering coming into the workforce to see senior living as a great career. Over time, you will help the children of potential residents see senior living communities as the right place for their aging parent. Remember the fact is we only attract 10% of the possible resident pool, 10%. An increase of just one or two percentage points could have enormous ramifications on occupancy growth.


Over time. You could help the media realize that there are great and incredible and heartwarming stories to be told about the amazing things being done, not just for the care of the residents, but to help them thrive. Now, what does being a champion mean? Being an industry champion in our industry means that you share your knowledge and the stories from the field, with the people that you know. And I’m not just talking about with others within senior living. I’m talking about everybody that you know. There are a couple of ways to do this. First direct conversations. We have conversations with people every day within our industry. And most of them are drinking the same positive Kool-Aid as we do in terms of the incredible nature of senior living. But just in case they might have had a negative talk with themselves, or they’re going through some things, remind them of the wonderful parts of this industry and share funny, uplifting and success stories.


Usually that is all it will take to get them back on the positive thought track. But you could be having even more conversations with friends and family over the course of a week. Let me ask you, do you share the wonderful parts of the industry with everybody? As Josh and Lucas say it, do you share the love stories of this industry? The stories that you share with your friends and family might make them consider putting their loved one in a community. And you’ll never know it. It might persuade them to suggest to their kids or even themselves to look at senior living as their future career. The second way you can be an industry champion is through social media posting. Some of you listening are great at posting on LinkedIn. And you might have learned about me through LinkedIn. You post pictures and stories, highlighting your community and experiences at conferences.


If you are one of those people, please keep doing it. But if you aren’t one of those yet, please start. But the things that you post on LinkedIn are only seen by those within your network. And while these posts absolutely help others within the industry see how great your company is and definitely help with potential future hires, they only stretch so far. Only posting on LinkedIn is limiting your incredible reach. If you share the love stories, the amazing activities the residents are involved with, the care and compassion of both with the residents, with the staff. The beauty of the communities. And if you share these things on the broader social networks, your reach and our reach can be immense. Post on Facebook, post on Twitter, post on Instagram. Now to those younger in your career so that you know Facebook is the OG of social platform.


This is where your parents, your aunts, and your uncles, and maybe even your grandparents post to those that will call more seasoned to help you understand, TikTok is the new kid on the block. No, not the boy band. But this is a social platform that is immensely popular to share short videos. And let me tell you, it’s highly addictive. Instagram is somewhere in the middle. Don’t post on one host on all of these sites. Share those picks on Facebook and Instagram. Share those videos on any of the three. Your videos do not need to be professionally shot. Simply done with your phone is plenty good. Show the heartwarming parts of this industry. We have an incredible opportunity to create a seismic shift in the future careers and with future residents. Here is my challenge for you. And this will be my way to know unequivocally that this has hit home with you.


I ask you to post on social media, all these platforms that we’ve talked about, beyond just LinkedIn and use the hashtag #seniorliving life. That is the hashtag the #seniorlivinglife, no space, use it on everything so that it will illustrate the beauty, compassion and elevated life of the residents and your team. Let’s start a movement. If we all start doing this, not just to promote your product, but to promote the industry, we will create this movement long term. Don’t just post once, post often be funny, be heartfelt, and you will create aspirations of interest. There are so, so many people who have already started this movement, but I would love to bring it all together under this hashtag of #seniorlivinglife so that more and more people can see it. As you can see, there are many ways to be a champion.


You have the knowledge, the expertise, the stories. You simply have to put in the effort and have the desire. You can do it because you love what you do and you love our industry. Scream it from the rooftops with those 21st century rooftops just being the social media platforms. Remember use #seniorliving life, #seniorlivinglife. Alrighty gang. That is it for today. If you have any comments, questions, complaints, or even conundrums message me on LinkedIn, I’d love to have a dialogue with you. I cannot wait to see all of you post on social media. Stay tuned next month for the next chapter in our recruiting and mindset adventures. Thanks for listening to this week’s BTG contributor Wednesday, please connect with me, Chris Heinz at


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CW 96: Chris Heinz