Alan Butler is CEO of Baltimore-based Erickson Senior Living and a national leader in development and management of continuing care retirement communities. As the featured speaker at the Johns Hopkins Carey Business School’s annual Ginder Lecture, Butler explained how Erickson’s size, sound financial footing, and ability to adapt helped it weather the pandemic and how he is preparing to respond to the demographic transformation that is already underway in the U.S.
Erickson must not only develop more communities, Butler noted, but also its ability to attract and retain a bigger and more skilled workforce. The company is working hard, he said, to build employee programs that “really educate and lift the next generation of folks to take care of seniors as well as benefit themselves.”
The company has career tracks for college and non-college educated employees, he said, and corporate scholarships have helped employees get an education and then return to work for the company. Erickson also has a mentoring program which Butler believes is a big part of developing a good workforce and helps Erickson stand apart from its competitors.
Butler recalled important advice he received from his father: “Get in early and outwork people.” Finding a way to stand out in the crowd underscores the difference, he said, between someone doing a job and someone building a career. He also noted that asking questions, using what he called “the curious sponge,” is particularly important at Erickson and helps chart a path to success. Developing leadership skills is critical, Butler remarked, because such skills are transferable to various positions and companies should do more to teach them.