5 Ways a Vacant Position Damages Your Senior Living Organization

A vacant position in your senior living organization is a bottom-line killer each day it remains open. Furthermore, the consequences of that vacant position are far reaching and can even create havoc and serious damage especially if it’s a key role that has been open for a long period of time.

What are the damages of a vacant position?

-Overworked Employees.  The current workload of your staff plus picking up the workload of a vacant position, places an extra burden on your employees which could lead to staff burnout. What’s the result of employee burnout? Overworked staff that have higher levels of staff sickness, tardiness, absenteeism, and lower levels of productivity.

-Low Morale. If your culture is one of positive energy, you may see a drastic change. When an organization loses employees or takes a long time to hire new ones, it tends to drain the energy and a negative culture emerges.  Even your happiest employees may start to second-guess themselves and wonder why they’re working at an organization that no one else wants to join.

-Hurts Reputation. To keep your occupancy rates high, your senior care organization relies on a good reputation in the community.  A poor reputation will encourage residents and their families to look elsewhere for senior housing. Long term vacancies as well as a number of vacancies, can cause your facility to be perceived as weak and sinking.

-Risk of Fast Hire. Time-pressured hiring managers find it difficult to dedicate the adequate time needed for both the hiring process and thorough vetting. They feel a sense of urgency to hire, and for that reason, corners may be cut.  If the assessment and selection process is neglected or done half-way, there’s a high risk of mis-hires. According to research from Career Builder, rushing the selection and decision making process is the most common reason that bad hires are made.

-No Terminations. It’s easy to understand why firing under-performers might be difficult when there are vacancies.  Senior care leadership is often reluctant to terminate these poor performing employees and view them as an extra set of hands during a dire time.  However, keeping poor performers around long-term is both a huge time suck for management and a profit-killer for your organization.

How can you avoid or fix these issues?

-Consider Interim Placements.  Hiring interim talent is on the rise. It’s a popular and viable solution for vacant positions, especially when it comes to leadership roles such as Executive Director, Nursing Home Administrator, Director of Nursing, Resident Care Director/Wellness Director, and MDS Coordinator. Interim executive placements enable your organization to sidestep talent gaps, minimize business disruptions, remain productive, and stay competitive while you search for that permanent hire.

-Identify Flight-Risks. Flight risks are disengaged employees likely to leave soon. If you can identify flight risks in advance through senior living “Stay Interviews”, you can put a retention plan in place lowering your turnover and reducing the number of vacancies.  The stay interview is an opportunity for you to ask current employees why they continue to work for your senior care organization. How they answer will likely calltol you who is apt to stay or leave.

-Brand Organization as “Employer of Choice:” Being known as an Employer of Choice, means that your senior living organization is a great place to work. There are a number of ways to position your work environment as an extraordinary and highly desirable employer including added perks and benefits, employee recognition programs, team building exercises, positive testimonials, etc. If you’re branded as an employer of choice, people will want to join your senior care organization.

-Raise Wages: Senior care organizations need to consider raising their wages or they will end up in a bidding war for talent with competitors. As we all know, there is a talent shortage at every level in the senior living industry and the organization that offers higher pay rates, will undoubtedly attract talent.

-Hire a Search Firm:
Search and recruiting firms exclusive to the Senior Living Industry can help you fill key positions, whether permanent or interim placements, in a timely manner. They know the intricacies and nuances of the industry enabling them to identify and secure qualified candidates, negotiate hiring terms, assist with the transition, and keep all information in the strictest of confidence.



Julie Rupenski is the Founder, President & CEO of MedBest, opening the doors in 2001. Since then, Julie has gained national recognition for providing top talent solutions exclusively for the Senior Living Industry. Her specialties include filling C-Suite, Vice President, Regional, and Property level positions.

Julie has an in-depth knowledge of the Senior Living Industry.  She previously worked in operations for both Senior Housing and Senior Living prior to founding MedBest. Today, Julie makes it her personal and professional mission to place qualified people in health care positions where they have the greatest impact.

Julie earned her degree in Gerontology at the University of South Florida, Tampa, Florida and continues to cultivate her career through senior living conferences, forums, trade shows, and expos.

(Julie’s industry articles and interviews have been published in Provider Magazine, Argentum Quarterly, LeadingAge Magazine, Florida Health Care Association, Florida Assisted Living Association, Florida Senior Living Association, LeadingAge Florida, LeadingAge Indiana, Pennsylvania Health Care Association, Oregon Health Care Association, and Virginia Assisted Living Association.)

Contact Julie Rupenski at jrupenski@www.medbest.com / 727-526-1294.


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MedBest is a national Executive Search Firm exclusive to the Senior Living Industry established in 2001.  We recruit and acquire exceptional senior care talent, permanent and interim executives, for all types of Senior Living Organizations and Communities across the US including Assisted Living, Continuing Care Retirement Communities, Independent Living, Memory Care, and Skilled Nursing Facilities.

Ask us about our Interim Talent Solutions including: Interim Executive Director, Interim Nursing Home Administrator, Interim Assisted Living Administrator, Interim Director of Nursing, Interim Resident Care Director, Interim Health Services Director, and Interim MDS Coordinator.

Contact MedBest at info@www.medbest.com / 727-526-1294.

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