How interior design boosts recruitment and retention: 3 areas to consider

Stress and burnout are high in retirement homes, and work environments may hold the key to unlocking their job satisfaction.

A pair of OnShift reports reveal information about the pressure on employees at retirement homes and what employers can do to help them. The 2021 Employee Outlook Report gathered information from more than 2,800 workers in the elderly care industries, including nearly 1,200 employees in retirement homes, and nearly half said the one of their biggest professional challenges was feeling “stressed and exhausted”.

Of the remaining responses, 34% indicated that they did not have enough “time for me” while a quarter mentioned concerns about their mental well-being.

Meanwhile, “Supporting Your Staff During COVID-19 and Beyond” highlighted the importance of physical spaces within a community designed to relieve stress and tension from caregivers, such as spaces to meditate and kitchens where family members of staff can come and eat. Simple decisions like these can help operators retrain strong staff members – a crucial goal at a time when staffing is a struggle.

Of course, when an operator is faced with decisions about renovations and space creation, they will be inclined to view income and may not view staff areas as income generating.

“They couldn’t think further from the truth, because their people are probably one of the biggest income generators they have,” says LuAnn Thoma-Holec, director and founder of Thoma-Holec Design. “Staff create the culture of the building, and if staff are not satisfied, it costs operators more money for training and more money due to staff’s low involvement with residents. “

Overall, operators are beginning to better understand the value interior fittings bring to staff members, both mentally and physically. Here are three areas of a retirement home where operators can make interior design choices that impact worker recruitment and retention.

Staff lounge

Whether it’s for socializing with coworkers or a place to take 15 minutes of quiet, the staff lounge is a great space for operators to make adjustments to help relieve the stress and strain of staff lives, says Thoma. -Holec.

“The old way was that the living room was located at the back of the building and usually had no windows,” she says. Lounges have often been designed more as delivery areas than actual lounge spaces. Outdoor access was often relegated to a parking lot rather than a courtyard.

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“They can have a microwave or refrigerator and a four-tray table, lockers, a clock that they point and take out and maybe a bathroom,” she says. “It was pretty much it.”

Thoma-Holec now sees operators moving in the other direction, with staff lounges created at the heart of the employee work experience. They are larger and moved from the back of the building to more easily accessible areas, with larger windows and access to a meditative outdoor space. Inside, the living rooms have plush seating and additional dining space, and include leisure amenities such as TVs and games.

“Employees can have access to a beautiful yard where they can go out into that yard and breathe and motivate themselves to go back and do their jobs again,” explains Thoma-Holec. “Our lounges help staff feel valued and feel that their bosses care about their well-being and the work they do.

Fitness centers

Another telling insight from the Employee Perspective survey is that 40% of respondents noted the challenge of staying healthy – worrying about diet, exercise and the fear of getting sick. Therefore, operators must consider the fitness and wellness areas of each building, she says.

A natural benefit of the senior community is that fitness and workout rooms already exist. The problem, says Thoma-Holec, is the firewall that separates staff members from the fitness rooms, whether it’s a lack of time or a feeling that the rooms are exclusively for residents.

“I think they can be designed in such a way that they can be used by staff,” she says. The same methods communities use to encourage residents to take advantage of fitness spaces and equipment can be directed to staff, including easy access via technology to programs that track usage and health.

While operators could use it as a revenue generator, by billing employees, Thoma-Holec emphasizes the value of having it as a perk, yet another tool to help increase retention.

“Why should the staff go down the street to a gym and pay a membership fee when some of these communities have amazing, modern, beautiful fitness centers? ” she says. “Anytime you can reduce employee stress, you will have a more productive employee and you will have a happier, healthier employee. The fitness center is a great place for that to happen.

Dining room and kitchens

The desire to relax and rejuvenate and the desire to stay healthy can each be satisfied by reimagining dining rooms. Additionally, 74% of respondents said they want to spend some free time with family or friends, and creating inclusive dining spaces within a community is a great way to continue using the space to meet their needs. several needs at the same time.

“The intergenerational aspects of combining children with residents of a community is a great way to create this positive culture and positive connectivity between staff and residents,” says Thoma-Holec.

Just as communities should make fitness areas available to staff, making sure that catering areas meet staff needs likewise helps.

“The main reason employees enjoy working in these communities is their connectivity with residents,” she says. “By using some of these amenity spaces, you can increase that connectivity and create a more positive atmosphere and a happier workforce. “

This article is sponsored by Thoma-Holec Design. To explore other creative people-centered design concepts, visit

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