A Focus on Leadership Development at ABHM Reduces Turnover 10%, Boosts Employee Satisfaction, and Improves Patient Care

senior patient happy with playing card hand

Highlights: American Baptist Homes of the Midwest


  • Provide ongoing frontline leadership training to supervisors and managers.
  • Provide foundational leadership skills not available from on-the-job and mandated training.
  • A turnkey solution that could be implemented immediately.
  • Decrease turnover, job vacancy rates, and related costs.
  • Improve job satisfaction ratings.
  • Attract and retain the best long-term care employees.
  • Transform the culture from a “cold building” to a “warm home.”
  • Improve resident care.


  • Audience – Supervisors and managers.
  • Curriculum The Leadership Journey™
  • Delivery – Self-paced e-learning, then group sessions of 79.
  • Facilitation – Local HR or site director.
  • Discussion – Monthly group meetings.
  • Application – Students used their personal action plans to apply skills each month before the next group session.
  • Follow-up – Participants shared their experiences applying new skills during group discussions and regular one-on-one meetings.
  • Measurement – Reports to corporate from each location.


  • Employee turnover decreased between 1012% at each facility.
  • Employee satisfaction ratings grew consistently in every measurement area.
  • Improved communication between staff, residents, and their families.
  • Improved positive care experiences with better outcomes.
  • Supervisors coach and support their teams.
  • Managers treat employees with respect.
  • Greater sense of community to achieve the goal of creating a “warm home” culture.
  • Greater management accountability.
  • Frontline leaders know how to solve problems and deal with situations as they come up.

The Company

A Focus on Leadership Development Improves Employee Satisfaction Metrics in Every Category While Reducing Turnover

Turnover in the healthcare and human services industries has been historically high and continues to rise. The national average turnover rate for nurses is almost 50%for CNAs more than 70%!

The cost of replacing staff is high—a conservative estimate would put the cost of replacing a frontline worker at more than $7500. These costs go up exponentially for more skilled staff members and those in hard-to-fill positions. Coupled with these costs is the potential negative impact on patient care and satisfaction.

It’s a situation no healthcare provider wants to be in.

Providing Quality Senior Care Throughout the Midwest for 85 Years

American Baptist Homes of the Midwest (ABHM) has been providing senior healthcare services throughout the Midwest for more than 85 years.

Each unique community offers an array of senior housing and healthcare options, from independent living apartments to senior assisted living and memory care as well as rehab and skilled nursing care services.

ABHM’s goal is to promote an active, engaged, and independent lifestyle for its residents, ensuring that their safety and comfort is top of mind.

With about 1600 employees working in 12 facilities across eight states, ABHM recognizes the critical role that supervisors and managers play in providing consistent support, resources, and clear direction to staff members while supporting the company’s mission: “to create healthy Christian communities that empower older adults, families and people with disabilities, and provide choices for housing, services, and technology that enrich body, mind, and spirit.”

The Challenge

Reducing Turnover and Driving Down Costs by Developing Leadership Skills

Healthcare is a service industry where people—specifically employees—are the product. They make the difference between a positive and negative experience for patients. The ability to attract and retain employees who provide positive patient experiences is critical.

It can be a revolving door, though. Turnover in the healthcare industry is high and growing higher.

Research continues to suggest that one of the greatest impacts on an employee’s decision to stay with an organization is their direct supervisor. Research from LeadingAge, the aging services industry association, supports this.

Unfortunately, their research also indicates that almost half of the supervisors responding had not received any formal education on supervising or managing others; even among those who had leadership training, only 13% felt they were well prepared to serve in supervisory roles.

The situation at ABHM was no different. Frontline leaders were skilled at performing their operational work, but most had no formal training or experience in supervising or managing others.

ABHM was experiencing high vacancy and turnover rates among its care workers. They were also concerned about employee satisfaction. They wanted to improve job satisfaction ratings for employees, change the culture from a “cold building” to a “warm home” and, in the process, improve the care of residents.

They began the search for a supervisory leadership development program that could help them both reduce turnover and drive down costs. But they had specific needs the program needed to meet. The program had to:

  • develop practical supervisory leadership skills;
  • foster small-group dialogue, discussion, and collaboration; and
  • accommodate a 24/7 service schedule.

ABHM wanted a sustainable training program for their leaders that offered a turnkey solution they could implement immediately.

Then they learned about The Leadership Journey.

The Leadership Journey provides a commonsense approach that meets us where we are.”

Claudia Rardin, Vice President of Human Resources, ABHM

The Leadership Journey™

The Flexibility of E-learning for a 24/7 Schedule with Group Discussion for Reinforcement and Accountability

ABHM turned to Business Training Experts for a solution. They chose The Leadership Journey for its customizable turnkey approach for group and individualized learning.

They also liked the training model—short bursts over time to help supervisors and managers learn practical skills. The 10 core competencies their leaders developed aligned with the skills ABHM felt its leaders needed to improve employee satisfaction and reduce turnover.

The self-study option of The Leadership Journey was especially appealing. The flexibility of the program’s online learning tools was perfect for ABHM’s 24/7 service schedule, allowing supervisors and managers in all areas of the organization to access the curriculum based on their unique and varying schedules.

healthcare worker talking to patient

The discussion guides, support materials, and modular format of the program allowed ABHM to create small, self-directed study groups that fostered cross-functional communication.

After individually completing an e-learning course, trainees met in groups of 79. Each group consisted of various levels of leadership, from frontline supervisors to senior executives. Mixing levels of leadership built a strong culture and broke down barriers, improving relationships at each facility. Everyone developed a better understanding of the challenges and responsibilities of their colleagues.

Sharing their responses, perspectives, and experiences led to lively and engaging conversations that the company feels offered tremendous benefits. The monthly group sessions were led by local HR representatives or the site director.

The opportunity to learn practical, how-to leadership skills from featured experts, combined with opportunities for interaction with colleagues, created a shared experience and commonly understood expectations.

The creation and use of personal action plans served as a shared point of focus for communication between supervisors and their managers as well as their employees, ensuring accountability at all levels.

Progress and impact were tracked through participation, course completion, and student progression as well as key performance indicators like turnover and vacancy rates. Employee satisfaction was assessed annually at the corporate level.

The Results

Reduced Turnover, Increased Employee Satisfaction, and a Great Sense of Community

ABHM estimates that they saved hundreds of thousands of dollars annually due to their participation in The Leadership Journey:

  • At their facilities, employee turnover decreased between 1012%.
  • Employee satisfaction ratings grew consistently in every area.
  • EEOC claims decreased.
  • More subjectively, but equally as important, the organization felt a greater sense of community achieving their goal of creating a “warm home” culture.

Supervisor and manager performance improvements were especially noticeable. There is greater management accountability.

Supervisors now understand how to coach and support their workers, and they treat them with respect. They are proactive, solving problems and dealing with situations as they come up.

And, arguably most important of all, ABHM’s leadership development efforts improved communication between staff as well as residents and their families, ensuring a positive care experience and better outcomes for everyone.

“Thanks to this curriculum, employee satisfaction has dramatically improved.”

Claudia Rardin, Vice President of Human Resources, ABHM

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