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A Workforce Engagement story:
Preserving employee morale in the
middle of a pandemic

Leaders at Mission Health, a large senior-living organization headquartered in Florida, have
always taken pride in its robust employee culture. But when the COVID-19 pandemic
broke, that culture faced an unprecedented threat.

To preserve employee morale, and thereby ensure that residents would not experience
any interruption in care, Mission Health’s leadership turned to NRC Health’s Workforce
Engagement solution. The solution’s reliable employee-engagement data enabled Mission to:

  • Start a program for employees experiencing food shortage insecurity
  • Implement a comprehensive financial-support strategy
  • Design digital experiences to bolster employee engagement
  • And more

System Governance | Attract & Acquire | Quality & Outcomes | Loyalty & Retention | Service Culture



Financial Goals





Mission Health, a senior-living organization based in Tampa, Florida, has been uncommonly successful in cultivating employee morale. The organization has consistently seen high employee morale, high rates of retention, and, as a result, a very high standard of resident care. Small wonder that Mission is a two-time recipient of NRC Health’s Employee Approved Award.

Like many other senior-living organizations, however, Mission was dealt a hard blow by the COVID-19 pandemic.

As the virus assailed the organization’s vulnerable resident population, leaders were deeply concerned about their staff. Given the stresses, the suspense, and the sheer physical risk of working under a pandemic, how would the Mission team hold up?

Fortunately, Mission’s leadership were prepared to meet the moment—through NRC Health’s Workforce Engagement solution.

“From consistent use of NRC Health surveys, we were able to glean specific information that we were able to build upon when the crisis hit. Much of our response to that crisis emerged as a result of what employees shared with us through NRC.”

Cheri Kauset, Vice President of Customer Experience, Mission Health


NRC Health’s Workforce Engagement solution is a comprehensive program of staff intelligence. Its digitally administered surveys capture a complete and candid picture of workplace morale, enabling leadership to strategically design initiatives to preserve it.

Primarily, Workforce Engagement instruments ask employees about the two aspects of their working life that matter most: Quality of Leadership and Quality of Workplace. These features have consistently shown robust predictive power in crucial measures like employee attrition and customer satisfaction.

Quality of Leadership questions center around the organization’s mission and employees’ confidence in their leaders to execute it. They also probe how employees react to feedback they receive, as well as the personal investment they feel among individual leaders.

Quality of Workplace questions, meanwhile, evaluate the working environment as a whole. These ask if employees enjoy a sense of alignment with the company culture, if they have connections with their coworkers, and if they believe their jobs give them enough opportunities for growth.


Thankfully, Mission’s leadership didn’t have to roll out Workforce Engagement for the first time in the middle of a pandemic. They had already used the solution for years.

This meant that they could anticipate their employees’ needs, the moment the pandemic arose. Using Workforce Engagement data, they could craft a strategic response to the pandemic that preserved both resident safety and employee morale.

They learned, for instance, that during the pandemic, the biggest stressors weighing on employees’ minds were personal and family safety and financial security. Knowing this, leaders were able to create the following programs to address these looming concerns:


In the pandemic’s early phases, food shortage insecurity was a major worry for Mission’s employees. To remedy the issue, Mission created its Curbside Groceries program.

The goal was to provide food-insecure employees with steeply discounted grocery staples. These included items that had become scarce in shop aisles, like bread, milk, deli meat, cheese, eggs, salad mix, and even toilet paper.

In all, more than 5,000 people were fed through Mission’s curbside program.


Aside from food worries, employees were also concerned about their pay. Many of them were rattled by the economic turbulence that followed the coronavirus outbreak. To help ease some of that financial pressure, Mission’s leaders implemented a suite of tactics:

  • PTO Your Way—This was a refashioning of PTO policies to allow for more flexible paid time off, as well as the buying-back of unused PTO hours.
  • Emergency Relief Fund—This was an employee-established pool of money to help staff members in acute financial distress.
  • Incentive pay—This was comprised of extra pay for employees caring for COVID-19 patients, and special “hero pay” incentives for those who kept working during the pandemic.

These financial-support tools constituted a critical lifeline for Mission’s employees as they endured the worst of the pandemic.


Finally, aside from addressing these tangible concerns, Mission also wanted to conserve a sense of community among its workers. With that in mind, they devised a comprehensive digital strategy to keep employees feeling engaged and connected.

These included an actively moderated Facebook group, a stand-alone HR app that connected employees with important resources, and a series of uplifting messages, transmitted through social media, to help foster a sense of pride in Mission’s staff.


These programs had a pronounced impact on Mission’s workforce.

One crucial result of Mission leadership’s efforts was an outstanding retention rate, even in the middle of the crisis. Mission’s organization-wide retention average was 67% in the second quarter—well above the national average, even in the best of circumstances.

Another result of these programs was perhaps less predictable. Not only did Mission retain the staff it had, but it also dramatically expanded its workforce. The organization’s outstanding reputation as an employer made it easier to bring new employees on board. In all, Mission hired 479 new clinical employees in just one quarter—a 24% increase in staff size.


Impressive as these numbers are, they are by no means the end of Mission’s ambitions.

The leadership team plans to build an even more robust employee-feedback operation by incorporating other NRC Health tools—like Real-time Feedback—into their workflow. This will enable smarter strategic interventions, faster service recovery, and a more tightly knit community of caregivers on Mission’s team.

“After working for so long with NRC Health, what we’ve taken to heart is this: all feedback is a gift. It sets the stage for professional and personal growth. NRC Health’s tools helped us benchmark our progress, and set the stage for us to strategically build our employee culture. ”

Cheri Kauset, Vice President of Customer Experience, Mission Health

For more on solutions from NRC Health,
call 800.388.4264 or visit nrchealth.com/demo.