Don’t wait until it’s too late… learn how to hire efficiently and effectively now!

By Pam McDonald

There will be a time – in the not too distant future – when competition for staff in senior living and long-term care will be fierce, stronger than ever before.

Workforce Demands Escalate

Workforce issues in senior care are growing increasingly complex, given the rising demand for services as the nation’s population ages – 10,000 people turn 65 every day. According to the Administration on Aging (AoA) almost 70% of people turning age 65 will need long-term care at some point in their lives.

All of this comes at a time when healthcare providers are facing a significant shortage of workers. Recent research from the University of California San Francisco estimates that demand for caregivers will grow by 2.5 million between now and 2030.

Mark Woodka, CEO of OnShift a Senior Housing Forum partner, is on top of these issues and concerned about what’s facing those who care for our nation’s seniors. His firm, OnShift, is a leader in human capital management software for senior living and a Senior Housing Forum partner. Woodka points out that high employee turnover, in addition to the workforce shortage and increasing demand for services, exacerbates these issues for senior living providers.

Be Proactive, Not Reactive

According to the American Health Care Association (ACHA) and the National Center for Assisted Living (NCAL), the turnover rate for senior living caregivers is 36.4%. But Woodka points out that 50% turnover or even higher is not uncommon. High turnover creates a multitude of concerns, impacting quality of care and service, increasing costs, and escalating hiring demands.  

Woodka added that many hiring strategies in senior care are reactive. “Recruting and hiring are often treated as an episodic event,” he said. “Communities typically wait until an employee leaves before they start looking for candidates.” In fact, research shows that 50% of providers cite a person leaving or being terminated as the trigger event to begin the hiring process. And, on average, communities need to hire 7 employees per month.

“If communities don’t start looking for people until after a position is vacated,” Mark stated, “they will incur either overtime or staffing agency costs filling shifts, unless the community is overstaffed to begin with, which is not a problem I’ve seen very much in this industry.”

Always Be Recruiting

In order to get ahead of this hiring crisis, Mark recommends starting with recruiting – finding and attracting new employees. He says, “Providers should always be recruiting. By continuously recruiting, you will be proactive in your hiring.”

Woodka provides the following example. “If you have 100 employees on your care team and you’ve got 50% turnover, that means 50 people will need to be hired this year, or about 4 a month.” He recommends a continuous approach. “Think of it in terms of a continuous flow of people in and out of the community, and be recruiting on a continuous basis. That way, you’ve always got candidates warmed up and ready, so your care team and the services they provide can remain consistent.”

Mark also recommends that communities assess the utilization of their current staff prior to hiring. They may have employees on staff who aren’t getting the hours they want or need and can work additional shifts.

Attract the Right Candidates

Mark offers additional tips to attract candidates to communities, including:

  • Offer an employee referral incentive program, using cash for referrals of staff members who stick

  • Partner with local educational institutions to develop your candidate pool

  • Host virtual job fairs online by setting up “booths” where everything is shared from job openings, to the company culture, to advancement opportunities.

  • Finally, Mark adds that “growing-your-own” goes a long way in senior living. He said, “Offering career paths and tuition reimbursement can help develop and secure the strongest employees in your communities.”

Learn how OnShift’s suite of software products for hiring, scheduling and workforce analysis can help senior living providers get the most from their staffing efforts. OnShift’s easy-to-use predictive tools help providers analyze employee utilization and pinpoint openings, find and recruit talent, hire efficiently and optimize staff schedules.