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Village Shalom Staff Lounge: An Investment In Human Capital

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Organizations like to say their employees are their most important asset. Village Shalom is demonstrating it in a tangible way.

Already known for its exceptional, ongoing employee-recognition program, Village Shalom has undertaken a special project: the complete redesign of its staff lounge. Construction on the modern, user friendly, highly functional space began in mid-September. And, just as it has throughout the organization’s 100-plus years of history, the community played a major role in ensuring the project’s success.

Village Shalom will host an open house to dedicate the staff lounge on Thursday, Oct. 30 from 2-4 p.m. in its Social Hall. 

“The staff lounge renovation will be a complete overhaul in amenities, technology and user-friendliness. It will go a long way toward improving our employees’ job satisfaction and productivity,” said Matthew Lewis, President and CEO of the continuing-care retirement community. “The staff lounge is a critical element in taking good care of our employees – the people who take such good care of our residents.

Architect rendering of the Village Shalom Staff Lounge. The lounge will be dedicated at an open house to be held on Oct. 30. 

“While Village Shalom’s employees handle a wide variety of roles and responsibilities, they all share a common trait: sincere dedication to their work. This can often be physically challenging and emotionally draining, depending on the demands of the job on any given day. That is why our staff members need a comfortable, up-to-date area where they can relax and get recharged during their lunch breaks and downtime.”

Funding for the project was sought from Village Shalom residents and family members, who were also asked to enclose personal notes of thanks to be posted in the new staff lounge. The campaign elicited a resounding, positive response – not only from Village Shalom families, but from the entire community. Within weeks, hundreds of notes poured in, along with thousands of dollars toward the project.

A sampling of the hundreds of thank-you messages sent by donors to the Village Shalom staff lounge campaign.

Charles Helzberg, a longtime supporter of the organization and a key benefactor of its employee-recognition program, added momentum to the campaign by issuing a challenge: If Village Shalom could raise $100,000 toward the renovation of the staff lounge, he would match that amount dollar for dollar with support for employee-recognition initiatives. The community responded readily to the challenge.

“This speaks so much to what has made Village Shalom so successful,” Helzberg commented. “We have really put our money where our mouths are. It shows how much Village Shalom cares about its staff – which translates to caring for its residents. Hopefully it will inspire others to continue to help Village Shalom in this way.”

Helzberg’s point is supported by ample documentation of the direct relationship between employee satisfaction and the quality of care that assisted-living and long-term-care residents receive. An issue of Seniors Housing & Care Journal pointed out that “family satisfaction, resident satisfaction, and employee satisfaction are correlated. They have a major influence on each other, and having satisfied employees is crucial…” Another study published in The Gerontologist concluded that “because resident satisfaction is related to staff perceptions of the work environment, efforts to increase resident satisfaction should also focus on improving the quality of the work environment for staff.”

A natural outgrowth of employee satisfaction is low staff turnover, which also contributes significantly to more consistent and higher quality care for residents., Village Shalom’s annual staff turnover has remained around 20 percent for several years – notably lower than the average 34.5 percent employee turnover in skilled-nursing and assisted-living facilities nationwide (according to 2012 reports from the American Health Care Association and the National Center for Assisted Living).

“Village Shalom’s numbers are already impressive by industry standards,” commented Lewis, “but we continue to work on ways to help our employees feel even more engaged, appreciated and well rewarded for the important work they do. This staff lounge will be a big step in that direction.”

It will also serve as a permanent reminder of the community’s support for the employees who make Village Shalom such a vital resource for senior adults. “This project could not have happened without a community that believes so strongly in the work we do every day,” Lewis added.

Perhaps the final hours of the campaign illustrate it best: As the deadline loomed, the campaign was still short of its goal. Upon hearing this news, one Village Shalom resident who had already contributed came forward with an offer: She would add whatever it took to push the total over the top. When asked what compelled her to such generosity, she replied simply, “It is a wise investment.”