The largest senior housing provider in the southeastern United States, Affinity Living Group now spans over 100 communities. In just the past year, the company added nearly 20 new facilities and its growth is only expected to increase as the baby boomer generation retires. In order to prepare for continued expansion in an industry where revenue is heavily regulated, Affinity keeps a laser-focus on its largest expense – labor costs. To optimize this $65 million annual spend, management knows it needs to avoid under- or over-staffing, and retain good employees for as long as possible.
Affinity’s leadership believes streamlined communication is a critical contributor to these goals. Previously, they struggled to keep thousands of distributed deskless workers informed and engaged. This challenge became even more problematic during a hurricane last year. The CEO had no effective way to get in touch with frontline employees who were serving residents as the storm unfolded. It was following that moment that the team quickly decided to adopt a company-wide communications platform that would allow everyone to stay connected using their mobile phones.
Today, Crew replaces several communications tactics Affinity now sees as antiquated and inefficient, such as tacking paper announcements and schedules to bulletin boards, or spreading updates through word-of-mouth. By posting a message on Crew, managers can instantly reach their entire teams, employees can easily contact each other, and the corporate office can share company news or even happy birthday wishes to everyone in the organization. All of this creates a more cohesive culture and helps people at all levels and locations feel more connected with the company’s leadership.
Trevor Parris, Affinity’s business systems administrator, shared, “At first, we brought in Crew to help make the company better from a management perspective, but what has been really great is to give something back to our employees. It’s been an unexpected bonus to see how much our frontline staff love Crew because it helps them succeed and know their job matters for the future of the business.”
Crew’s improvements to Affinity’s internal communications processes have already delivered results across the organization. Managers are enhancing the company’s employee recognition program by using Crew to award Gold Stars, which employees accumulate and exchange for gift cards or days off. In addition, administrators use Crew to alert staff about required in-service trainings, maintenance best practices or impromptu standup meetings.
For instance, one manager recently posted a helpful video prior to an especially cold weekend. In two minutes, he was able to demonstrate to everyone exactly what to do if the sprinkler pipes burst, including procedures for turning off valves to avoid flooding. Another administrator helped her night shift prepare to welcome a new resident by sending a group message on Crew with the patient’s name, personal needs, room number and expected time of arrival. As a result, her team was ready to admit and welcome the customer without requiring a manager’s presence to facilitate the process.
“Crew helps employees engage with the company, feel like they’re part of the organization, and have self-worth that their role is important – all of which is mitigating turnover. This platform is taking our communications to a whole new level that we didn’t even realize was possible before Crew.”
Business Systems Administrator
Now that facility administrators post their schedules in Crew, everybody has easier access to that information from their phones. Employees can quickly let their managers and co-workers know if they’re running behind or have a sick child and need shift coverage. And when that happens, managers no longer need to spend 30 minutes a day finding someone to fill in. Instead, they spend about 15 seconds sending out a coverage request via Crew, and can find coverage within minutes. Parris estimates that Affinity’s communities with Crew are improving shift coverage levels by 20% on average.
Next, Affinity plans to build on this success by using Crew for employee task lists – something that will make shift transitions more seamless and support staff who might be filling in on a shift they don’t typically cover. For example, team members could post details to Crew about when a particular resident needs to be changed, bathed, fed or given their medicine. This will help them more easily keep track of each resident’s current status and ultimately improve the quality of care they deliver.
The most significant impact Crew is having on Affinity’s business to date is with employee retention. The first eight locations on Crew saw their turnover drop to just 18% in one quarter – 83% lower than average staff turnover for the rest of the company. In addition, Parris expects Crew’s scheduling capabilities to bring down labor costs by giving managers more options for shift coverage, which will reduce the percentage of total payroll going to overtime.
Affinity’s administrators also appreciate the time saving benefits of Crew. Rather than spending hours every week trying to get shifts covered or tracking down individual employees to notify them about staff meetings, managers can now do all of that in Crew in just minutes. All told, Parris expects this to save the business nearly 300 manager-hours every week.