Operators must streamline, improve hiring and retention processes.
By Britt Riese, Oasis
It’s no secret that the demand for talent in healthcare is exceptionally high right now and the projected need for workers continues to rise. This historical trend has been amplified by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Now that we are almost two years into the pandemic, we are not only trying to keep up with the growing demand of healthcare jobs, we are also competing with increased wages in other industries, safety concerns in healthcare, more flexible work environments and a culture of burnout.
When you look at job growth, jobs in the senior living sector have consistently continued to grow. We’ve added jobs in the U.S. at an average annual rate of just about 4 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
The bureau also shows that healthcare job growth overall has continually beaten private-sector job growth, which is only at about a 1.2 percent average growth rate annually. Senior living is currently outpacing everyone else for jobs openings.
Although the pandemic has affected senior living in many ways, jobs have seen little impact compared to other industries. This illustrates that high job growth will continue in senior living.
The stability of jobs in senior living should be an appealing benefit to job seekers. Healthcare jobs currently rank No. 7 of the top 30 list of fastest growing occupations from now until 2030. This is an exciting jump from 2017 when healthcare ranked 16th.
Recruit and retain talent
With senior living being a booming industry, why are we having a hard time finding and retaining talent? There are several factors that contribute toward some of these challenges.
When looking at the American Association of Colleges of Nursing website, data shows U.S. nursing schools turned away 80,407 qualified applicants from baccalaureate and graduate nursing programs in 2019 due to insufficient faculty, clinical sites and classroom space, as well as budget constraints.
Although it is clear these programs are having a hard time keeping up, this is a positive indicator. We are seeing an increase in interest in the industry. In addition, we are seeing an increase in males entering the nursing field and increased diversity.
It’s not a huge secret that having a well-defined, positive employer brand is an essential part of building high-performing teams.
Whether we like it or not, people are talking about our communities online, so keeping a pulse on what is being said while promoting the positive aspects of your communities are key recruitment and marketing steps.
How much do employees research before applying for a job? Here are some statistics from Glass Door “40+ Stats for Companies to Keep in Mind for 2021.”
• 86 percent of women and 67 percent of men in the United States wouldn’t join a company with a bad reputation.
• 92 percent of people would consider changing jobs if offered a role with a company with an excellent corporate reputation.
• Companies actively investing in employer brand can reduce turnover by as much as 28 percent.
As a first step in creating your employment brand, it is important to define your vision, mission, values and culture statements. You need to be able to articulate the meaning and purpose behind the work your employees do every day.
In addition to defining your culture, it is important that you are living your brand every day. Candidates should not only read about your brand online, they should also experience your culture through the hiring and onboarding process.
Also, don’t forget, your current and past employees are an intricate part of your branding strategy. If their employment experience is not positive, they will be the first to tell others via social media and word of mouth.
Hiring in senior living has turned into a full-time job — so much so that we are continuing to see organizations create jobs and/or put more resources into this particular task. With that being said, if you are not taking the time to reassess your new hire process, chances are new hires are going to walk right back out just as quickly as you hired them.
Job candidates should be treated like customers, nurturing them through the process and providing them an exceptional experience. That’s what you advertised in your job ad, right?
It all starts with your job posting, as this is generally your first impression to job seekers. In today’s market, candidates value transparency, so it is important to be precise, but also to the point.
First, tell the applicant who you are. It’s important to look at this from an outsider’s perspective, even someone who knows nothing about senior living.
Second, use standardized job titles. Your job title is generally what candidates search for to find your posting. If you use unique job titles internally, your job postings are not the place to introduce them.
Third, use key words. Think about how a candidate may search for your position and incorporate those words into your posting.
Fourth, include a pay range. Being upfront with job seekers about wages will be more productive and efficient for your hiring process.
Today’s job candidates value convenience and communication in the hiring process. Glassdoor recently reported that 58 percent of job seekers look for jobs on their phones. Also, CareerBuilder has indicated 60 percent of job seekers will quit in the middle of filling out online job applications because of its length or complexity. Review your application process from an applicant’s standpoint and make sure it is a positive experience.
With the current staffing shortages, it is becoming more common to rush new hires through a less-than-desired onboarding program and quickly onto the floor. It can be easy to get lost in the process and forget that a new hire walking in the door does not know us. Put together a welcome packet and detailed onboarding agenda. It will help the new hire understand what to expect their first week and put them at ease.
Competitive wages and rewards
Now more than ever we are seeing employees being pulled into other industries due to higher wages. It is important to regularly review your wages against the competition.
But there are other ways to be creative with rewards that go beyond a simple hourly rate increase. Some ideas include: including front line employees in your bonus structures, increasing wage differences for hard-to-fill shifts, re-evaluating your paid-time-off and holiday policies, unconventional added benefits and reducing benefit waiting periods.
A good starting point in evaluating rewards is asking your employees what benefits are most important to them.
Growth and development
No one wants a dead-end job at a company that doesn’t value its people. We know a lack of career growth and development is a top reason employees are leaving their jobs. If you help develop your employees’ careers, they’ll reward you with improved performance and retention.
Britt Riese started with Oasis in 2014 and is a human resources business partner, serving senior living clients nationwide. Prior to Oasis, she worked in the retail industry serving in several management and HR roles. She has a bachelor’s degree in human resources and is a member of the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM).