Attracting A Millennial Workforce To Senior Living

The workforce shortage impacting the senior living industry is real. According to Argentum, the senior living industry will need to hire 1.2 million employees before 2025. With an industry average turnover of over 40 percent, organizations need to think differently to avoid a staffing shortage.  

Why are millennials key to the solution? Because by 2020, millennials will be half of the global workforce. However, attracting and retaining millennials to your organization requires a better understanding of their motivations and drivers.  

What do They Look for in a Job?

First, you need to understand what they want from a career, and then offer opportunities for them to accomplish their goals. It’s evident that many employers have not yet figured this out, as millennial turnover is costing the U.S. economy $30.5 billion a year.

Without looking at the list below, most people would assume that money is the top driving factor when it comes to finding a job. Surprisingly, it’s been passed by another need, showing that millennials aren’t what you might expect. Here are the top five things millennials look for in a job:

  1. Opportunities for career advancement. According to Workplace Trends, 91 percent of millennials have a career goal of becoming a leader. Offering ways for employees to climb the career ladder and explore different positions and paths can help retain them and keep them engaged.
  2. Money. Even though it’s not the number one factor in looking for a job, salary is still very important. Offering competitive pay can be the difference between working for your senior living organization or another.
  3. Training and development. Millennials want to constantly improve and develop their skills, and that happens through additional training, feedback, and manager involvement.
  4. Benefits. With a country-wide emphasis on health care accessibility going on right now, millennials want security with their benefits. To attract millennials with benefits, offer quality health care coverage with good benefits, such as paid time off, 401(k), and maternity leave.
  5. Flexible scheduling. Seventy-seven percent of millennials believe that flexible work hours and working remotely would make them more productive. Offering flexible work arrangements is key in today’s workplace. This shows a commitment to a positive work-life balance.

In addition to the five areas above, another aspect to consider is your senior living organization’s technology. Studies have shown that 59 percent of millennials also base their job decision on the employer’s technology, and if it is state-of-the-art or not. A mobile-friendly workplace and technologies, like cloud applications and electronic processes, are just two examples of ways you can attract millennials and show that you have the technology they are looking for. Other areas include Wi-Fi that covers the whole campus and the use of mobile devices, such as tablets and laptops.

What Makes Them Stay at Their Job?

Attracting millennials to the senior living industry is one thing, but how do you keep them engaged and ensure they’ll stay?

Ultimately there are five main reasons that make them stay:

  1. Professional development and growth. Eighty-seven percent of millennials said professional development and growth opportunities are important to them. Provide training and opportunities for employees to develop their skills and learning.
  2. Workplace environment. Seventy-eight percent said workplace environment factors into their decision to stay at their job. Take a look at your organization’s culture, and determine if there are any aspects that you think might need changed to improve your workplace environment.
  3. Healthy work-life balance. Fifty-seven percent said a healthy work-life balance is important. This relates to your remote capabilities and placing an importance on family and not always working more than 40 hours a week.
  4. Regular feedback. Forty-two percent of millennials want some type of feedback every week, and 44 percent who report that their manager holds regular meetings with them are engaged. Make sure you’re giving your employees consistent and frequent feedback about how they’re doing and how they could continue to improve.
  5. Making an impact. Millennials want to make a lasting impact and contribute to the overall purpose of the organization, thus they seek work that makes them feel valued and has a sense of purpose. This can lead to employee engagement, as 71 percent that know what sets their organization apart and what it stands for also plan to stay at their organization for at least a year. Your senior living organization should implement ways for millennial employees to impact others, such as engaging with seniors on a regular basis. This will help them see how their work truly impacts the residents, and can help attribute their day-to-day tasks to a higher purpose.

When you put these five areas into practice, it leads to millennials that are active and engaged in their workplace. These may not seem like a big deal to Gen Y, Gen X, and Baby Boomers, but they make a big difference in the daily work lives of millennials, and heeding these factors can make a big difference in your senior living organization, as well.

What are the Benefits of Engaged Millennials?

Once you have engaged and contributing millennials at your senior living organization, what are some of the benefits that you can expect to see?

First off, you can expect more effort and productivity. A study conducted by the Corporate Executive Board found that employees most committed to their organizations put in 57 percent more effort and are 87 percent less likely to resign, than employees who consider themselves disengaged. If your millennial employees know how their work can make a positive impact on the lives of your residents, it can lead to even better work.

Engaged millennials also help solve your workforce shortage. At some point, your current leaders are going to leave or retire. The Social Security Administration reports that, on average, 10,000 baby boomers retire every day. Attracting and retaining millennial workers can help prevent workforce shortages and allow you to focus on serving your residents and maintain occupancy rates.

Working to implement these preferences, technologies, and best practices show that you’re working towards the future. The shift to a millennial workplace is already under way, and the sooner that you prepare your senior living organization for the rise of millennials, the better.

What can your organization do to improve how you attract and retain millennials?


Katie Roth

Katie Roth has been in a leadership role in the employment industry for the majority of her career. Currently, she is Manager, Talent Acquisition for Oasis, a Paychex® Company. Katie is a graduate of the University of Iowa and is certified by both the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), as a Senior Professional in Human Resources, and the National Association of Personnel Services, as a Certified Personnel Consultant (CPC).


May 31, 2017

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Katie Roth