Senior Living: Strategies To Overcome The Workforce Shortage

Recently, I had the opportunity to moderate panels at the InterFace Seniors Housing Midwest and Southeast conferences discussing one of the biggest challenges facing the industry: the workforce shortage. And while there is no silver bullet to this crisis, it was encouraging to see industry leaders come together and share their strategies. Here are four key takeaways from the conferences:  

1. The Fight for Talent is Real and Will Impact Industry Growth

According to Argentum, the senior living industry will need to hire 1.2 million employees before 2025. With an average turnover of more than 40 percent, organizations are already feeling the effects of the workforce shortage. Merely finding the volume of workers ready, willing, and able to care for the aging population is challenging alone. But attracting the talent and skills necessary in a less than appealing industry adds another layer to the mix.

2. Organizations are Thinking Differently

The industry has shifted in recent years to accommodate the retiring baby boomers. Some of the same marketing strategies adapted to the changing resident persona, including the use of technology, social media, strong online presence, and video, can be replicated to attract the next workforce generation.   

A Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) study revealed that 84 percent of organizations now use social media to recruit employees and that number has increased by 54 percent over the past five years. The feeling is mutual with job seekers. In an Aberdeen Group survey of job seekers between the ages of 18 and 34, 73 percent said they landed their last job through a social media platform.

Additionally, the future workforce generally is not aware of the vast opportunity for meaningful careers this industry has to offer. We need to create partnerships with colleges and other schools to proactively educate the students and faculty. 

3. To Attract Millennials, We Must First Understand Them

We’re swiftly approaching a time when millennials will be half of the global workforce. Attracting and retaining this generation will require us to learn what is important to them. According to Gallup, 87 percent of millennials say that professional development is important for their job, and 69 percent of non-millennials agree. This generation of employees will be attracted to a work environment where they can continue to learn, live, socialize, and connect.

For more information on appealing to millennials, click here

4. Workplace Culture is Paramount

Employee engagement and organizational financial results are tied to a strong, positive work environment. The way people behave, communicate, and interact all help define that culture. Well-defined roles and expectations, opportunities for advancement, continuing education, and ongoing feedback from leadership are all contributing components of a winning culture. Engaged employees are not only more likely to stay, they are more productive, more engaged with your residents, and are your best source of advertising to potential employees.

The sentiment from both conferences has reinforced the obstacles the industry is up against. However, in the face of challenge, the industry leaders I interacted with demonstrated resilience and their commitment to serving seniors has not waivered.     

What strategies can your organization adopt to overcome the workforce shortage?


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).


September 6, 2017

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Katie Roth