What are long term care facilities doing to grow their workforce in 2023?
The healthcare industry, in the wake of COVID, is facing what may feel like an insurmountable wall of challenges. These range from difficulty meeting rapidly changing regulatory requirements to increased acuity to growing economic pressures. But at the center of all these challenges, the highest priority for many healthcare institutions, is resolving the workforce crisis.
For long term care (LTC) facilities this is especially so. From kitchen to custodial to maintenance to nursing, the LTC workforce must be educated, competent & compassionate in order to succeed.
In the senior living sector alone, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicates there will be over 1.1 million job openings between now and 2031. This increase is due in part to healthcare workers leaving the profession in record numbers.
While many healthcare institutions (such as hospitals) have managed to recover and return to somewhat normal staffing levels, it’s predicted LTC facilities won’t recover until 2027.
According a report by AHCA/NCAL, since the start of the pandemic, nursing homes have lost 221,000 healthcare workers.
While the LTC workforce is predicted to grow 0.7% between 2022 and 2027, the senior population will far surpass that growth at 15.3%. It’s predicted the crisis will continue to grow in severity until LTC facilities resolve their workforce issues.
What can be done?
Simply put, the LTC industry will need to start rebuilding & re-engaging their workforce in 2023. While it may not seem like rocket science – it’s the following that many are not (but should be) doing:
Listening & Understanding
In order to create a workforce that is engaged – employers need to start listening to their employees & work on understanding what they need as individuals.
The world is changing, and so are the ways in which people are thinking about work. No longer are people willing to work 40, 50, 60 hours a week for “the greater good.” Today, many are starting to re-evaluate the priority their job takes on their lives.
In 2021, the Gartner Hybrid & Return to Work Survey found that:
- 65% of people have “rethought the importance that work should have in their lives”
- 52% “questioned the purpose of their jobs”
- 50% “changed the expectations they have toward their employers”
Respect & Value
There are many ways in which an organization can show that it respects & values their employees. These can include, but are not limited to:
- Pay them fairy & competitively
- Provide them with work & opportunities that are meaningful to them as individuals
- Create a respectful and inclusive work environment
- Provide flexible schedules and offer a healthy work/life balance
- Offer career development & training opportunities
- Make health & wellness programs accessible
The American Healthcare Association (AHCA) and The National Center for Assisted Living (NCAL) have teamed up to create the “Careers in Caring” campaign, designed to provide resources and information to help LTCs successfully recruite new staff members.
This campaign includes free & easily accessible resources on:
- Tips on recruiting LTC workers (e.g., Using current employees as recruiters)
- Core messaging examples (e.g., You’re not just your job title)
- Myth’s and facts (e.g., Working for state institutions is not rewarding)
- Sample jobs posts, social media, graphics
- Videos (e.g. Long term care career advancement)
Definition of Success
Success will be defined (metaphorically speaking) by how big the smiles are, on the faces of those who populate the workforce. Employees are an organization’s most valuable asset. They should be treated with care and invested in wisely.
Happy employees are more productive. More productive employees are nothing short of amazing for an organization’s bottom line and the care of its residents. According to a 2021 Gallop poll – engaged employees deliver 21% greater profitability and demonstrate a 41% decrease in absenteeism.
There is no one formula that will define success for a long-term care facility. The key will be to be active and continuous in efforts to rebuild and re-engage a workforce. Not only will LTCs need a strong and resilient recruitment team but also C-Suite buy-in (and investment in) employee engagement programs, as well as fair and competitive pay initiatives.