VP of Human Resources,
Seniors North America
The long-term care and senior living industry continues to face workforce challenges. The number of people requiring care keeps rising, and the available labor pool to provide those services isn’t keeping pace. Finding and keeping talent is no longer an HR challenge, but a strategic business priority. Yet, most companies are unable to attract the right talent and/or build lasting relationships with their employees in an effort to overcome the challenges in today’s market.
The staffing shortage issue is primarily about demographics. As baby boomers get older and retire, a huge new group of people will need senior services. At least 2.5 million more workers will be needed by 2030 to provide long-term care to the aging United States population. Add to that a persistent turnover crisis of nearly 40% and the lowest nationwide unemployment rate since August 2007, and you have a perfect storm. Other contributing factors include increasing minimum wages, new federal overtime requirements and increased pressure on immigration rules which affects the senior care labor pool. Bottom line: we will need more qualified, dedicated caregivers than ever and finding the right people is a challenge.
In today’s war for talent, organizations and leaders are looking for strategies to attract individuals who will thrive in a senior care environment. The key word is strategy, which requires a plan of action. Incorporating a strong workforce planning process is an essential component of the overall business strategy. Today, leaders need to know facts pertaining to their workforce, such as: employee turnover trends (by tenure, position and geography), workforce demographics and the strength of their internal talent pipeline. Workforce data can provide operators with insight as to the effectiveness of recruitment and retention efforts, succession planning strength, as well as gaps within the workforce. It is a systematic process for identifying the needed resources, competencies and capabilities to meet organization goals.
Once you have identified your gap, how do you attract the talented people to your organization? The new generation of workers seeks organizations that align with their values and interests.
Today, social media provides a view into an organization’s heart by providing insight on company values and community involvement. To succeed in this new era, companies and recruiters will have to increase their presence online, offering robust information and resources to promote their employment brands. In addition to “getting the message out,” the current workforce should be able to “speak the same language.” The mission and values on the website must be reinforced during each stage of the recruitment process.
Over the next few years, recruiting will make a sharp departure from the recent past. With a looming talent shortage – complicated further by pent-up demand among employees to change jobs – the rise of social media as a communications platform, and the higher expectations of the Millennials, recruiting is entering a new, more challenging era.
Today, a candidate can apply for a position through their iPhone, from practically any setting. Organizations will need to adopt a process that provides ease and efficiency without sacrificing a personal touch. Lengthy recruitment process will miss out on talent, and recruiters will need to offer ways for candidates to connect directly with them online, offering a more personalized experience.
In addition, employers need to extend their reach on the passive candidate. One of my favorite phrases from the past, “everyone is a recruiter”, has never been more pronounced than in today’s competitive environment. Utilizing the social media networks established by the current workforce not only reaches non-active candidates, but provides an opportunity to promote the organization.
As the economy continues to improve and employees have more job options, retaining the right people is just as, if not more important, than effective recruiting practices. Although reviewing compensation will always remain a high priority, employers need to truly understand factors that motivate a person to stay with a company. The workforce is evolving, but that does not necessarily mean you need to toss your retention strategies of the past, they may just need to be tweaked. Two of the more common retention strategies include on-boarding and recognition.
Many organizations lose sight of employees after they have accepted the position, even though the first 90 days of employment are a critical time in the employee life cycle. Ask yourself if your on-boarding practices assist the employee in acclimating to the new environment? Is the employee experiencing the vision he/she was sold during the recruitment process? A well- designed onboarding program plan should include a schedule, encourage feedback, provide direction and assist in establishing relationships with new team members. The key question to ask: does it reinforce the values of the organization?
When discussing the topic of recognition programs, most conversations center on monetary/ formal rewards or promotion. Rarely do the ideas such as talent/performance discussions, community involvement or stretch assignments surface under this topic. However, studies point toward a new generation that values “experience” over other motivational actions. The new workforce desires interaction and variety. They welcome feedback and opportunities that strengthen skills or provide rewarding experiences. Recognition comes in many forms and sometimes, it is just a matter of spending quality time with your employees.
Attracting and retaining the right people will continue to challenge organizations over the next few years. When developing your strategy it’s important to consider all the above factors and channels to attract and retain the new workforce. Continuously educate yourself and build a strong network for the purpose of sharing the tools, ideas, and experiences with your colleagues. Traditional Human Resource practices are now key business priorities and effective Business Partners demonstrate their value through executing strategy.