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Live with Purpose - February 25, 2020

At Goodwin House, Organizational Culture Attracts and Retains Staff

By Amanda Ranowsky

At Goodwin House, we believe that organizational culture attracts and retains staff. We’re committed to ensuring our staff experience the benefits of choosing careers that can be rewarding and long.

Mission First

“The mission of Goodwin House is to support, honor and uplift the lives of older adults and those who care for them.”

When I arrived for my first day at Goodwin House last week, this mission statement was introduced at the very start of our new hire orientation, and its message was frequently reinforced throughout the training. It was clear to me that Goodwin House knew what should be obvious to all companies: the people you serve are happier when the employees who serve them are happy.

More Important Than Ever

It’s never been more important for companies in the senior living industry to emphasize employee care. In August 2019, The Washington Post reported on a trend in the state of Maine that is expected to arise in states throughout the country in the coming decade: an increasing aging population and a simultaneous decline in the younger workers needed to care for them. The Post cited statistics that indicate this trend is “especially true in states with populations with fewer immigrants, who are disproportionately represented in many occupations serving the elderly.”

Typical Turnover & Bucking Statistical Trends

According to the 2019-2020 CCRC Salary & Benefits Report created by the Hospital & Healthcare Compensation Service, RN, CNA and LPN turnover rates were 31%, 41% and 26%, respectively. That’s a dangerously high turnover rate in an industry that can ill afford it. With a general decline in the number of workers, senior living employees are in a position to pick and choose the best jobs available.

“There simply aren’t enough qualified individuals in our area to fill open positions,” says Fran Casey, Chief People Officer for Goodwin House. “However, once someone comes to Goodwin House, our retention rate is high. There are times folks leave to seek better opportunities and we applaud them for that and help them to grow. It is our hope that when a valued staff member leaves to pursue other opportunities, they will return once the right position is available. We have MANY staff who leave and come back – because they realize how special this place truly is.”

Our efforts are paying off. In 2019, we ranked #7 among The Washington Post’s Top Workplaces. Equally significant is our ability to beat industry trends. Goodwin House turnover rates are 20% for RNs, 22% for CNAs and 14% for LPNs – which are 15-20% lower than national trends.

Celebrating Service

At our annual Service Awards ceremony (Goodwin House honors employees on each five-year anniversary with the company), it was clear that employees responded to the level of respect and appreciation they received from Goodwin House. Of the 72 honorees, 20% had been employed at Goodwin House for 20 years or more. And collectively, the honorees represented nearly 800 years with Goodwin House.

Jane Rosman works in the Goodwin House Alexandria Administrative Department. During the ceremony, she was honored for her 20 years of service. “I love the Goodwin House team spirit – working with everyone, staff and residents alike,” she said. “The mission and values are very important to me. The working environment is great, everyone gets along with each other. I would say we are a company that welcomes everyone.”

Senada Turko, our HCC/AL Dining Services Manager, was also honored for 20 years of service at Goodwin House. “The residents and staff have become a second family to me,” she said. “Working with seniors has helped me realize that I love being part of a living, loving, and learning environment. I really like how Goodwin House as a community is devoted to the residents and their staff. They truly live up to their mission statement.”

When asked what led her to remain with Goodwin House for so many years, Turko said, “Goodwin House is a family oriented community that has helped me to be able to balance both my work and personal life while also developing my career. When I first began my career here, I was not comfortable speaking English. Through the wisdom that the residents have provided me with, I have been able to grow and develop both inside and out of this community.”

Connection and Compensation

While connecting to a mission is key, competitive pay and a generous benefit package go a long way to keeping employees happy. Goodwin House has committed to raising its minimum wage to $18 by 2023, with many raises already in effect.

As a company that values diversity and employs team members from more than 65 countries, Goodwin House also takes the extraordinary step of providing citizenship assistance to employees who have been with the company for at least six months. Goodwin House is committed to providing the $725 application fee for citizenship and offers assistance with test preparation.

Organizational Culture

In addition to benefits, organizational culture plays a significant role in our employee retention. “Staff are treated as professionals and experts in their work,” says Josh Bagley, Administrator & Guide of the Small House Health Care Center at Goodwin House Alexandria. “They are not at the bottom of the organizational chart; they participate in our interdisciplinary team as equal partners. We do not call our staff working in our communities Certified Nursing Assistants; we call them Care Partners. Their job is not be an assistant to a nurse. Their job is to be a partner to the residents.”

The People Factor

Goodwin House Chief People Officer Fran Casey attributes the high retention rates to the people themselves. “Staff members speak of leaving home to come home and how they leave their homes in the morning with a full heart and return from work with an even fuller heart. People talk about Goodwin House as being their second home and the residents and staff being their second families. People genuinely care about one another.”

I’ve seen this myself. Every employee and resident I’ve met in my first week at Goodwin House has been unfailingly kind and welcoming. When I walk in, I’m greeted by a smile and “Good morning!” from Susie at the front desk. I pass Annie in Laundry Services on the way to my desk, and can always count on a cheerful exchange with her. Vernon in maintenance services has promised to give me a tour of the Whatnot Shop (GHBC’s own little in-house thrift store) tomorrow.

Today is my one week anniversary with Goodwin House. I look forward to receiving my own Service Awards in the years to come.


As Marketing & Communications Specialist, Amanda Ranowsky partners with colleagues throughout Goodwin House to tell our stories and raise brand awareness. From printed collateral to digital marketing, Amanda covers many bases. Before joining GHI, Amanda worked for a small, family-owned business where she gained experience in content marketing. Amanda’s creative expression extends beyond the office. She is an active member of community theater and chorus groups.

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