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Best Places to Work 2017 Employees' Choice Award   SEE MORE

How Mission-Based Careers Win in a Selfie Society


elderly woman getting pressure taken

When senior living company Aegis Living made Glassdoor’s Best Places to Work 2017 list amid 600,000 companies listed, it was, for many, unexpected to say the least. After all, the generally consumer goods and tech-heavy list of employers has been packed with global companies attracting young talent. Never has a senior living company made the Glassdoor list. Stereotypes of the industry might prompt the question, “How can people be that happy working in senior living?” One predominant reason for employee happiness at Aegis is a shared sense of mission paired with an ‘employee first’ culture – Aegis Living nurtures a mission-based culture based on the belief that happy employees make for happy residents.

‘Employee First’ Corporate Culture Starts at the Top

CEO Dwayne Clark has led the way emphasizing the ‘employee-first culture’ since he founded the company in 1997. “At Aegis Living, we truly believe that each employee is the cornerstone not only to our current success, but also to our future success as a company. We work hard every day to create a unique company culture that strives to show that we appreciate and support our employees – not only in their career ambitions, but in their personal lives too.”

Aegis culture emphasizes respect, dignity, gratitude, and empathy along with high integrity and a passion to serve. Our private, family-owned company is based in the Greater Seattle Area and employs more than 2,100 people serving 2,000 residents in 28 assisted living and memory care communities on the West Coast. Clark says, “We have a lot of competition for entry level employees in the healthcare industry, not to mention that our home office is in the Greater Seattle Area, land of Microsoft, Amazon, Starbucks, Boeing and Expedia. Yet we were named in the Top 50 Best Places to Work. We could not be more humbled and amazed!” So how does a business focused on nurturing seniors succeed in a society that values youth as the cultural norm?

Higher Job Meaning = High Job Satisfaction

More evidence suggests that a greater sense of meaning in one’s job equals higher retention. Jade Makana cites a new study in the January 10th edition of Payscale.com that says, “Perhaps not surprisingly, higher job meaning equates to high job satisfaction. 85 percent of workers who reported they ‘very much’ believe that their job is making the world a better place, said they were ‘extremely satisfied’ or ‘fairly satisfied’ with their jobs.”

To gain more insight into caregiver satisfaction, Aegis Living took a video camera into communities in an effort to hear the hopes and dreams of care managers conducting the daily tasks of dressing, managing dining services, and staffing activities. What we brought back was an emotional and compelling portrait that reflects three commonalities:

  • Many Aegis Living care managers/directors say they can’t imagine doing anything else.
  • Caregivers say they feel like they’re taking care of their grandmas and grandpas.
  • Staff is hardwired to have empathy for others, a crucial capacity when serving residents and their families at a very difficult time (end of life).

Finding and retaining the right people who believe in what you’re doing is key. At Aegis Living, the client value proposition is this: “We care for your loved one as if they were our own family.” It’s our core goal in our rapidly growing company. Aegis Living staff share a personal sense of mission to provide care for the daily needs of elderly residents, many of whom live with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. They also value the long term relationships that differ from the typical short clinical healthcare visits. The result? Happier employees. Reviews from the Aegis Living’s Glassdoor review page say it all:

“I find joy in working with my residents. I like to make them laugh, sing, and dance.”

“I work for an awesome and amazing company. I have the support I need to be successful.”

“Teams in the communities love their jobs and think of them more as missions rather than jobs.”

While we actively roll out a list of unusual perks in our recruiting efforts so that we can compete for care staff in a highly competitive hiring environment, it’s clear that hiring people with a shared sense of mission and making sure we nurture employees and value their contributions leads to employee satisfaction.

In the unscripted video chronicling a day-in-the-life at Aegis, Care Manager Isabela Ahumada tells us that her dream at work is “to change the world, one person at a time.” What better employee could we ask for?

Visit an Aegis Living community near you to learn more about how our extraordinary employees can enrich the lives of your loved one.