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Senior Living Leaders Take Responsible Approach to HQ Closure by Utilizing Career Transition Services

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Challenge:

When Emeritus Senior Living and Brookdale Senior Living announced an agreement to merge, creating a combined entity with more than 1,100 senior living communities in 47 states and a workforce of more than 80,000, a smooth integration immediately became the company’s top priority. Brookdales’s name and headquarters footprint would be retained, resulting in the closure of Emeritus’ Seattle headquarters.  There was much work to be done, and maintaining operations through the closure was critical.

Emeritus/Brookdale enlisted Waldron’s support in planning for the closure and supporting the career transition needs of all impacted employees in a way that aligned with organization culture and values.  Over 300 people’s jobs were impacted by the closure, representing multiple functions, levels, and locations.  Employee notification and termination timelines varied significantly based on the need to maintain certain functions through the transition process.  It was critical to provide the right levels and timing of support to the groups and individuals impacted, minimizing disruption to operations post transaction announcement.

Solution:

Initial collaborative planning meetings between Waldron and Emeritus/Brookdale leadership yielded agreement on a core project design principle.  While delivering some services in group format would decrease costs, services were structured to have as much 1:1 employee coaching as possible in order to maximize the impact and value for the transitioning employees.  Emeritus/Brookdale’s intention was for each employee to know from the beginning that, no matter when they departed, they would have the outplacement support they needed to strategically and successfully pursue the job market. Each impacted employee at any level would have the opportunity to be deliberate and well-prepared for their search, and could confidently envision the next chapter in their career. Retention was enhanced as employees didn’t feel the need get to market earlier than the company planned.

Waldron CPI supported the planning and implementation in several key ways:

  1. Planning & Communication Support:  In addition to strategic project planning at the executive level, Waldron CPI attended several “all manager” meetings to describe separation support, answer questions, and conduct training to prepare managers for difficult conversations with their teams.
  2. Notification Support:  While the initial transaction announcement signaled that most Emeritus employees would be impacted, once individuals learned of their specific separation dates, Waldron CPI was able to help them through the emotional reactions associated with facing job loss and transition.   
  3. “Lunch & Learns”:  Waldron held informal lunch-time information sessions for employees to learn more about the career transition process, ask questions about the services being made available to them, and air any personal concerns related to the transition.
  4. Seminar Series:  A series of Career Transition Seminars were held on-site based on the Waldron CPI career transition milestone model. 
  5. Office Hours and Individual Services:  Throughout the wind-up of Seattle operations, Waldron consultants maintained office hours on-site at the company so that individuals could get personalized counsel and coaching.  Each employee could schedule multiple one-on-one coaching sessions with their assigned consultant to address job search specifics and broader strategy questions.

Results:

As a result of the collaboration with Waldron CPI, Brookdale was able to successfully maintain operations during the site closure, with planned retention of over 94 percent and minimal disruption, while honoring Emeritus employees’ contributions to combined enterprise value. Brookdale/Emeritus upheld their brand promise as a responsible and compassionate employer by supporting separated employees with strategically-designed and effectively implemented high-quality, personalized career transition support services. 

"Waldron CPI's role in this process was critical to our ability to honor the commitment of so many long tenured and loyal employees, by providing support that was tailored to the needs of each individual." — Liberty Stansberry, SVP of HR, Brookdale Senior Living

Visit Waldron's Outplacement page to learn more about our career transitions services and methodology.