The following is an excerpt from the Christian Horizons’ fiscal year 2022 annual report. Click here to read the full report.

Barb Shepard, Chief Human Resources Officer

Experience, well-being and engagement. These are elements of continued focus for our human resource team this fiscal year where we navigated through challenges and exciting new initiatives for Christian Horizons’ competitive advantage—our associates.

This year, we met challenges head on, from navigating to a new normal with COVID, to mitigating the impact of a cyber-attack on our HRIS/payroll vendor, to keeping abreast of the latest in a nationwide employment crisis. Response included a strategic-first approach that kept the associate experience, well-being and engagement at the forefront.

Amidst the pandemic, we continued to ensure associates had the resources to maintain safety—for those we serve and for themselves. We proactively initiated associate vaccine requirements long before state and federal regulations because we know health and safety of our colleagues and those who serve is of utmost importance. We’re proud of how associates stepped-up to be vaccinated for COVID-19 and influenza or worked through an accommodation.

When we learned our HRIS/payroll provider had experienced a cyber-attack, we immediately ensured associate information was protected and assembled a cross-functional team to ensure no paychecks were missed and associates had access to their earned wage accounts. And as nationwide employment challenges reached every corner of our nation, we continued to lean into recruitment and retention with a strong focus on associate experience and benefits. In 2021, employee engagement in the U.S. dropped for the first time in a decade. During that period, our own associate engagement remained consistent.

Aside from the hurdles, we moved forward with new initiatives to enhance experience for associates and ensure all voices were heard at the highest of discussions. We increased outreach through a twice-yearly third party engagement survey; we surveyed associates to understand unmet needs, refreshed health benefit plan offerings; we relaunched the Thrive Leadership Conference; and we laid the groundwork for even more intuitive benefits and resources launching in our next fiscal year—including a new software that will give visibility and access to associates and leaders, and innovative approaches to recruitment including our Foreign Educated Nurses program.

Associates create the experiences for residents, clients and families that differentiate us from our competitors. Coming together to ensure we continue to invest in associate experience is an important part of our strategic vision. Navigating through an unpredictable year, we came together and saw incredible collaboration at every level of our organization. I’m proud of the incredible Christian Horizons associates and excited to continue to align experiences in our next fiscal year.

As a faith-led, person-first organization, Christian Horizons is in service to a mission of empowering older adults in mind, body and spirit through faith-led service. Based in St. Louis, Mo., the organization owns and operates a portfolio of seven life plan campuses and five stand-alone older adult communities offering a mix of independent, assisted and supportive living; memory support; long-term healthcare centers and short-term rehabilitation. The organization also serves older adults through Safe Haven Hospice in central Illinois; Senior Care Pharmacy Services; and New Horizons PACE® (Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly) in St. Louis, Mo.