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CW 97: Takeover

It’s a takeover Contributor Wednesday episode hosted by Josh and Lucas and featuring contributor alumni Cara Silletto of Magnet Culture. Cara led a live focus group at Senior Living 100 Conference with frontline workers sharing their experiences and employer-staff relationships.

Join the trio as they discuss workplace retention and highlights from the conference.


Welcome to Bridging the Gap podcast, the senior living podcast with Josh and Lucas. We’re in beautiful California at the Senior Living 100 and we’ve got a great friend and a Contributor Wednesday alumni, Cara Silletto of Magnet Culture. Welcome to the show. 

Cara Silletto 

Hey guys, it’s so great to be back. I can’t believe it.

Lucas 00:39

Well, it’s gonna be in person. We’ve spent the last forever virtual, right? Our listeners know you very well, because they’ve heard the great content that you’ve put out on Contributor Wednesday. And so us three are taking over Contributor Wednesday, today to talk about couple of different topics, but mainly the thing that’s really on the front burner for everybody is workforce and retention. And you were the closing moderator for a live focus group here at Senior Living 100. And it was very, very interesting. Can you walk us through, for those that are listening and not, here, can you kind of set up the stage and tell them, who were you talking to and how it was set up?

Cara Silletto 1:25

Sure. So the Senior Living 100 crew did a great job of asking those executives who were coming to the event to find some of their current employees who would be willing to serve on the voice of the workforce panel. And we had everyone from an executive director, a director of nursing, two CNAs, a recruiter, and a housekeeper all on, we zoomed them in. And so I was on stage live doing the moderation, but we zoomed everybody in up on the screens. And we were able to have a really candid conversation about what the executives did, right? The senior leaders that are sitting in this room right now, what do they need to know about today’s workforce? And so I was able to ask them all kinds of questions, which we’ll unpack here in a couple minutes. And it was just a great opportunity to hear the truth, right from their mouth. Not even through me as a a conduit of any kind, but instead just straight from their own staff.

Josh 02:28

Well, that is a refreshing format because we’ve even heard some people say, I remember one of our friends, Nathan Jones, everybody knows him in the industry now, but when he was first coming up, we were all the time talking about the millennials, [mm-hmm]and he just kind of stumble into one of our events one day and he’s like, “Hey, curious, Josh, there’s all of y’all talking about millennials. Why don’t you ask a millennial what they think and have them on the panel?” That’s a brilliant idea. We should do that. So you guys actually did that today. Give our listeners a little bit of, I guess, maybe a cliff notes version. So you asked maybe some probing questions that we were all like wanting to ask, but you did it much better than we could. So what were some of the questions and then maybe give us what some of the answers were.

Cara Silletto 03:18

Yeah. Ashley was great. She’s a DON, and she was talking about the importance of management training and the investment in supervisors and leaders to be more effective in their roles, because we all know that has been cut even pre pandemic, that a lot of that was cut for trading and development, so she just went into the importance of the role of the managers, that they need to have time for their people. They need to have been properly trained, not just in their technical or clinical expertise, but as a manager, the communication, the soft skills and those types of things. So she gave a great overview on that. Erica is a housekeeper and talked about how her company has made her feel very welcomed, that they smile a lot. And they talk to her, even though she’s new and nobody really knows her, but she said it was critically important that people welcome her and make her feel a part of the family right out the gate.

Cara Silletto 04:16

And she’s only been a CNA and even in senior living at all, or I’m sorry, a housekeeper in senior living for I think, five months. So we need to keep her, and make sure that we continue to make Erica feel super, super welcome within the industry as well. We had Junior who is from Uganda and he talked about the importance of effective communication, appreciation. We even tapped him a little bit to talk about the international workforce. And he, again, went back to communication, mentioned the importance of translating some documents, particularly when we see a community, bring in people, several people from one culture outside of the US, oftentimes maybe be they are French speaking, or they are Spanish speaking or something else. And he said, if that’s where you’re recruiting people from, or we’re recruiting our friends, can you please translate some of these documents?

Cara Silletto

You know, the handbook orientation or any rules and regulations? Can we get that in French, please? You know, just because he wants to do a good job and he doesn’t want…he’s a great English speaker, but doesn’t want that barrier, that English as a second language barrier to make him misstep. Right? So that was really important as well. Grace was a CNA. She’s also from Uganda and she has moved her way up to become a licensed administrator. And she’s now an executive director at an assisted living group. And so I ask her about the stepping stones and the advancement and support that is needed for people. So she talked through her journey of going back to school and what that meant from a company perspective of how did they support her? And then what can companies do moving forward, which is create more stepping stones, create more scholarships, do tuition reimbursement when possible.

And even if they can’t afford those things, at least support people to go down that path. Right? And then we had Nathan, another CNA that talked a lot about the onboarding process and how important it is for that new hire experience to be great. And finally, Lizzy is a recruiter and she just really hit home that quote, unquote, “hiring better people,” isn’t going to cut it. That’s not gonna solve our retention issues and, really focused on help the recruiters by creating the better place to work, so it’s easier to recruit and they don’t have to recruit as many replacements.

Josh 06:53

Well, so it’s really interesting that some of the themes of feedback that you were just sharing actually from the team members and the communities themselves really paralleled a lot of the themes that one of our earlier guests that was actually here at the Senior Living 100, the CEO of Great Place to Work, several of those things where he was saying, you need to pay attention to these areas because it needs to be a great place for all. And so even if you’re French speaking, right. It’s got to be a great place for them and for those that are transitioning from the housekeeper all the way up, and he made the other point that, right now, particularly if there are team members that have been with you through the past couple of years and they have not left, that is gold.


Josh 07:42

I mean, they’re with you for good, or for bad, they’ve weathered the storm with you. And so Cara, you work all the time. This is what you’re always talking about it seems like, workforce. For the listener out there, that’s thinking, man, you know, I hate that. I didn’t get to listen to that panel in person and take a lot of notes, but is wanting to try to make a better workplace. How are there formats or ways that you would say that they could capture this information out of their own team members in a way that the team members would really be honest with them? What, what would you recommend?

Cara Silletto

Yeah, it does take time to build trust and to get candid answers from your folks. You can’t just go out and ask them, “so what do you think about me? Or what do you think we should do around here?” You know, that’s probably not going to get you that answers that you want, but I loved how they closed the panel. I asked the question of what, if we change nothing, you know what happens? And I believe it was Lizzie, the recruiter that piped up and said, please go walk around your buildings, go talk to your people to your point. You have to hear it directly from them, and you have to build that trust. So walking around the building one time is not going to open up that floodgate. You really have to get out there regularly. Another person from a session today said that he makes his HR to team go work in the community one shift a month as a different worker.

Not as HR, but they can choose whatever they want. If they want to go to culinary or they want to be a caregiver, if they want to get certified, of course, that type of thing, but he makes them do that to stay connected. And so I do think, especially for leaders at every level, they really have to get out there and start asking genuine questions. An easy one that we recommend is if you had a magic wand, what would you change around here, you know? And then it’s kind of funny, it breaks the ice, and yet it gives people an open opportunity to say something I outlandish. “Well, I’d pay everybody a million dollars or whatever it is, you know?” Um, I’d put in a pool for the staff, whatever. And, but then you get that going, you break the ice and then you can get to some really good answers, really good thoughts.

Josh 10:08

That’s some really good information. You know, Lucas, we’ve kind of heard, over the last couple days, big theme here at Senior Living 100 of the workforce. And it’s interesting how I think, oftentimes as leaders, we want a, a one hit wonder, as far as, or a silver, silver bullet, that’s just going to fix something like magically, but there’s so many layers to this onion that you just keep peeling back and it kind of all just plays together. But an overall theme, I mean, we even heard it in a podcast the other day, the FORD Principle, right. To be able to do that, you have to be constantly building relationships. It’s not like one day you can just pop in, as you were saying, and just spring a bunch of questions and expect to get honest and transparent answers, if you haven’t built a relationship. So that’s been one recurring theme and relationships are two ways and you can’t grow relationships just in one way. So everybody’s got to be giving in that relationship. Um, this has been a lot of fun. So you’ve developed some little tools. I see one sitting right here. Can you tell us about this little tool book?

Cara 11:15

Sure. So we have a whole series of mini books. Many of you probably have a copy of the Millennial Mindset, my little purple book, they call it. And when the pandemic hit, we came out with a little red book called Workforce, Wake Up Call, and then hot off the presses, friends is our new little silver book called Redefining Employee Retention. And they’re just little pocket-size guides. They’re great for handing out to the leaders, even those who aren’t big readers, cover to cover type readers, because they only take about 10 minutes to, to shift through.



Josh. You could even finish this book. 

Josh 11:50

Oh, well does it have pictures? That’s all I want to know. Does it have good pictures? But yeah, that pocket size, I could do that in three weeks for sure.

Lucas 11:59

Yeah, these are great. How can people pick these up?

Cara Silletto 12:02

So if you visit, you can find those online. We are working on getting them all onto Amazon right now, some of them are there, the brand new one, we’re still know getting it posted, but feel free to just reach out to me on LinkedIn or at If we’d be happy to mail you a free copy, we would just love for people to hear the stories of the workforce and to really understand who it is that they’re trying to attract and retain. And also get some of our strategies. We do nothing but employee retention. That’s all I do every day, all day while everyone else is out doing great caregiving work and taking care of their residents. This is what we focus on to save you the trouble. Just reach out and we can chat.

Josh 12:48

Cara, we so appreciate you on the spur of the moment, by the way, you didn’t know you were doing the until about 10 minutes ago, it was so refreshing to know that you were going to be at this event. I think back often to season one where me and Lucas began over five years ago, you were one of our first guests in an actual senior living community. I remember that community, you drove down and spent time with us. You’ve been one of our contributors. So you have invested. Our listeners need to know a lot of time in us, a lot of time in this industry. A lot of time, just giving content, free for the taking. For people so make sure if you’re out there listening or if you’re watching on YouTube to go visit Cara at her website and Lucas, I know we are going to connect them to Cara.


We will put everything in the show notes. She can get a BTG, check Cara out and all of our content there. Connect with us on social. And thanks for listening to another great episode of Bridge the Gap.

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CW 97: Takeover