Skilled Nursing Operators Top List Of Best Places To Work

September 27, 2018, Alex Spanko, Skilled Nursing News - In a long-term health care era plagued by staffing concerns and tough headlines about nursing homes, a pair of skilled nursing facilities topped the 2018 Best Workplaces for Aging Services list of the best workplaces in aging services. 

Gurwin Jewish Nursing & Rehabilitation Center in Commack, N.Y. and Van Dyk Health Care in Hawthorne, N.J. came in first and second place on the list which was released Thursday by the Great Place to Work and published in Fortune magazine.

Activated Insights, a subsidiary of Great Place to Work, surveyed employees at more than 2,000 aging services facilities around the country to compile the list.  The fact that two majority-SNF providers led a pack that included senior housing heavyweights such as Sunrise Senior Living — ranked seventh — and 14th-place Holiday Retirement was an unexpected result for Activated Insights CEO Jacquelyn Kung.

“That was our surprise as well, given that the skilled nursing industry has been pummeled in so many ways, by regulatory, by labor, et cetera,” Kung told Skilled Nursing News.  “I guess it goes to show that there is really great work going on.”

This was Great Place to Work and Fortune’s first aging-specific version of its annual best workplaces list, prompted in part by the persistent employment pressures in the seniors housing and care sector.

“From a macro perspective, this is one of the top two or three issues of our industry — workforce,” Kung said.  “And so it’s something that our industry has been really interested in, and historically, different companies and organizations in our industry — some of whom are on the list today  — have always tried to apply for Great Place to Work recognition, but they never made it.”

Gurwin Jewish took the top prize with across-the-board worker satisfaction with management, rewards, and corporate ethics, as well as a generous benefits package that includes 100% employer-paid health insurance for full-timers and tuition reimbursement programs. 

Those perks take on outsized importance with the employees surveyed for this list:  As opposed to Great Place to Work’s other rankings of workplace happiness, the vast majority of workers in aging services receive hourly wages instead of salaries, Kung noted.

But it isn’t just money that motivates the workforces at the leading employers.

“The most common theme was that people really felt a sense of purpose working in aging services, and that comes out in terms of pride, in terms of: This is more than just a job,” Kung said, adding that in general, senior care providers ranked higher than many of the companies on the overall Fortune 100 list in terms of employee mission and calling.

There also wasn’t much of a correlation between wage and ranking, according to Kung.

“The variability in the wages was just as high as you see in the rest of the industry,” she said.  “There was not a common thread that these employers paid better.”

Happier employees, healthier residents

The top two providers weren’t the only skilled nursing facilities on the list, which tracked the 40 best senior living and care operators in the United States.  The Santa Ana, Calif.-based Generations Healthcare chain came in 12th place; the Charleston, W.Va.-based American Medical Facilities Management took 24th; and the single-SNF Chaparral House in Berkeley, Calif. ranked 25th.

Kung pointed out that the SNFs that appeared on the list also had strong clinical quality results.  Gurwin Jewish has a five-star rating from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), while Van Dyk’s three properties have three-, four-, and five-star marks, respectively. In general, all of the skilled nursing facilities on the list averaged above four stars, according to Kung.

“Better cultures, as measured by the trust index, make for better operations, and it makes for lower employee turnover,” Kung said.