The Old Folks Home

old folks home

You have a new job. Yep, you’ve been promoted. You are no longer in the HR game; you are now managing a rather larger retirement community… in Phoenix, Arizona, no less. Yeah, it’s hot, but it is a dry heat. You’ll get used to it after the first year or three.

Anyhoo.

What’s your new world consist of? You have many hats… you run the place after all. You have to attract new guests to the facility. Through attrition or otherwise, you have beds to fill. 1000 beds to be precise. So, how do you attract candidates to your lovely facility? Once they or their families have agreed… how do you welcome them to your community? Say, what’s the first two weeks like for them?

I mean… your facility kicks major a$$. Everyone has a golf cart. You have PlayStation Monday, endless movie day Tuesday, killin’ social media Wednesday, how-to-homebrew Thursday, sex-over-70 Friday, casino night Saturday and God-can-be-your-friend Sunday.

If that weren’t enough, there are endless activities and lessons—your guests love dance and golf lessons. You squeeze in about 10 hours worth of fun each and every day. Guests can select the things that are interesting to them and opt out of stuff rather easily. Think of it like this: the end of your life should be fun, dammit.

You have wonderful activities and your crew is willing to try almost anything for the guests of your community. The people that make up your community love it here—love it.

That said. Your guests get older right in front of you. They outgrow the fun and activities. They move from independent care to dependent care to hospice to death. More often, that takes years, but sometimes time is a cruel thing and they move from one stage to the final stage rather quickly. You and your employees have to contend with that eventuality. You’re in the death business after all.

And people deal with death in rather messed up ways. Especially the family members that are losing mom, dad, grandma, grandpa, etc. How do you keep yourself motivated to create a wonderful experience for guests and employees? How do you NOT let it get to you?

Oh, and that’s not even the hardest part—you have to get paid for all this. You have to wrangle with the insurance companies on a daily basis. What a complete kick in the teeth that must be… fighting for money.

Truth is, your job is NOT easy.

Okay shift gears… back to real life. Your current gig doesn’t seem that bad now, huh? Just kidding.

Two things occurred to me as I had this thought:

1) HR is everywhere

2) the essence of being humane needs to be everywhere.

Firstly, look at that scenario again: recruiting, onboarding, performance, succession, engagement, training, communications, compensation, learning, compliance, etc., etc., etc. The whole scenario was loaded with HR-related concepts. So, you know more than you think about running a business. With your head down in the weeds it might be hard to see that, but I can see it. Clearly see it.

Secondly, if we were truly running a retirement community, the ideal would be that the facility exudes the essence of being humane. Meaning, at every single inflection point or juncture you and your staff would treat your guest by being humane. Policies be damned. Finances be damned. The only thing that would matter is how humane are you with your guests. Which I can only imagine is tough. It’s not easy being humane. All-the-freaking-time humane. I’m sure the darkness creeps in. I’m sure people get tired or numb to all the pain. I’m sure it must become easy to rationalize or justify NOT being humane.

Now, for a moment… think about your own HR organization and the essence of being humane. Are you being humane to your job applicants and/or employees? No judgment—I’m sure it isn’t easy being you. Really. That said, please do me a favor: think about it for a moment… are you being humane at every single juncture? By the way, when I say humane, this is what I mean…

hu•mane: adjective, characterized by kindness, tenderness, gentle, mercy, sympathy, or compassion

Truth is, we’re all getting older, and we’re all going to die soon and some of us pay taxes.

Have a wonderful freaking day.

FOT Background Check

William Tincup
WILLIAM TINCUP, SPHR. William is the CEO of HR consultancy Tincup & Co. William is one of the country’s leading thinkers on social media application for human resources, an expert on adoption of HR technology and damn fine marketer. William has been blogging about HR related issues since 2007. He’s a contributor to Fistful of Talent, HRTechEurope and HRExaminer and also co-hosts a daily HR podcast called DriveThruHR. Tweet him @williamtincup and check him out on Facebook and LinkedIn. Not up to speed in the social media game? Reach out via email. William serves on the Board of Advisors for Insynctive, Causecast, Work4Labs, PeopleReport, Jurify, TrackMaven, SocialEars, AppLearn, StrengthsInsight, The Workforce Institute, PeopleMatter, SmartRecruiters, Ajax Workforce Marketing and is a 2013 Council Member for The Candidate Experience Awards. He also serves on the Board of Directors for Chequed and is a startup mentor for Acceleprise. William is a graduate of the University of Alabama of Birmingham with a BA in Art History. He also earned a MA from the University of Arizona and a MBA from Case Western Reserve University.

2 Comments

  1. kd says:

    Hey William –

    Interesting post. On the side of being humane first and foremost at the retirement home, the drag you mentioned related to the march toward death – wow, that has to take a toll on anyone who works there and I’m guessing less than 5% of the general population has what it takes to see that and still have the humane touch 3 years after they started, right? There’s gotta be an app – errr, assessment – for that.

    On the HR front, hit me with some notes back on the difference between your definition of humane and the stereotype of what HR is good at – we’re “people” people!!! I know you’re talking about something different, but unwind that for me so I’m sure and get it 100%…

    Thanks – KD

    Reply
  2. Cara Carroll says:

    Thanks William! Love the pic of Betty White getting down! That must be one expensive retirement home or very well connected to have her playing there.

    Reply

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