Turnover and a shortage of qualified employees are both tremendous challenges for senior living operators across the country. More than ever, it is important to find creative ways to attract and keep talented associates. To express appreciation, provide recognition and give associates more opportunities for personal growth in their current role, Kisco Senior Living, a national senior living leader, is pleased to announce the implementation of its first-of-its-kind Career Lattice Program. Park Terrace, a premier Kisco Senior Living community, is pleased to announce that its first round of Career Lattice Associates (CLAs) have graduated after completing a series of activities that introduced them to new people, responsibilities and experiences. A career lattice is a path filled with learning experiences and opportunities that an associate can explore to drive the acquisition of knowledge, skills and abilities to apply to their career. The Kisco Career Lattice is one way that Kisco Senior Living enables associates to foster a learning environment of continuous improvement for the benefit of the associates, residents and community as a whole. Rather than promoting up to another position, it provides lateral growth. Park Terrace serves as the pilot community for this program, and other Kisco Senior Living communities will begin implementing it as well.
“The Career Lattice Program is a wonderful way for associates to familiarize themselves with other departments and positions within the senior living community,” said Ben Davis, executive director of Park Terrace. “The program holds the team accountable to one another, promotes the sharing of ideas and information and provides new perspective on working together and learning new processes. Throughout the program, the associates are responsible for meeting with their supervisors to create a plan of events with opportunities for community contributions, learning new skills or a new position in their department, spending approximately two hours shadowing people in other departments, as well as sharing what they learn and sharing their passion on the job. We were thrilled to pilot the program and are eager to give more associates in our community this opportunity.”
The program features three levels, each with different exercises and two to four percent pay increases. It takes six months to complete each level and up to 10 associates may participate each time. Associates may apply during a two-week open enrollment and must meet certain qualifications to apply. Level one focuses on learning basic skills and tasks, and it introduces CLAs to other positions and departments. Level two provides an in-depth exposure to responsibilities and processes of other positions and departments. Level three focuses on leadership and sharing knowledge with others. The program is entirely voluntary and is completed during scheduled work hours and considered compensated time. CLAs who successfully complete all three levels are rewarded with an additional $500 award. Park Terrace CLAs Maria Damian and Ada Leon thoroughly enjoyed level one of the program and feel it benefits their careers.
“I currently fill a lot of roles in dining services, and when I learned of the program I jumped at the opportunity to gain a better understanding of other departments,” said Damian. “While I shadowed a variety of people and participated in many different activities, the one that stood out to me the most was the bus excursion for memory care residents. Sometimes, people have this stereotypical image of memory care residents and feel their disease limits their ability to stay active. On this bus excursion, they were active and engaged with their tour guide. It was fascinating to see how the driver kept everyone’s attention and provided such a unique experience for them during the outing. I also shadowed the concierge team, housekeepers, caregivers, sales team and operations. I found the front desk to be challenging, as you must know a lot of information about the community or must know who to put people in touch with very quickly. The phone rings nonstop, and people call for all sorts of reasons. I have a greater appreciation for associates working the front desk because they have to multitask really well.”
Damian valued working with different personalities and seeing varied approaches to similar roles. As part of her “Work: Play” portion of the program, she shared her love for Spanish with residents through teaching regularly scheduled Spanish classes. Though she started teaching the classes before the program started, she added in special sessions as part of the program. The fact that she started the classes before signing up for the program showcases just how much Damian values her work and the people she serves.
“After learning about how Maria shares her passion with residents, I knew I wanted to do something special too,” said Leon. “I am a caregiver in memory care and decided to treat residents to a spa day during which I spent time doing their hair, their makeup and their nails. Sometimes residents living with memory impairments forget how much joy it brings them to go to the beauty salon and how good it feels, so I reminded them that they deserve to feel beautiful inside and out. Their families were very appreciative, and it meant a lot to me to do this. The entire program left me feeling empowered and gave me confidence in knowing that I can do more things than I imagined. I have a lot of respect for the different departments and positions that work together to make our community run as well as it does. I found maintenance to be difficult because of the technical components like wiring and computers, and housekeeping was also hard because of the large amounts of laundry done each day. For me, my personal favorite was working in the kitchen. I helped with the dishes, cooking line and serving. I also enjoyed being in wellness and exercising with the residents.”
As a caregiver for 38 years, Leon was intrigued by the program and the opportunity to try new things pertaining to other people and departments. She walked away from the program with a better idea of roles in the community and a new perspective about teamwork overall.
“Career Lattice growth is a way for individuals to create value and master themselves,” said Davis. “It allows people to improve upon the skills they already have in order to take on new responsibilities. Exposure to different roles and departments provides associates with a big-picture look at what is happening across the community and how each department and individual helps make it run successfully. The goal of this program is not only to educate, but also develop new ways of thinking and explore new approaches to problem solving. It’s about putting yourself in someone else’s shoes and gaining a better understanding of what is happening around you. That leads to mutual appreciation, a sense of satisfaction, and ultimately, we hope the program helps us recruit and retain associates who really want to make a difference.”