How Technology Impacts Employee Experience and Retention in Senior Living

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Employee Experience

The senior living industry has lost nearly 15 percent of its workforce since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Providers struggle with how to recruit, retain and continually engage qualified staff amongst increasing competition from traditional competitors, as well as the likes of retailers, restaurants, fast food establishments and grocery stores due to the continuing rise of the minimum wage. Data from the American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL) reports that nearly 100 percent of providers are having trouble hiring staff and, subsequently, are asking employees to work overtime or cover extra shifts, leading to burnout and a reduction in care quality and other services. 

Recruiting and Hiring 

Starting in the recruiting process, it’s important for providers to demonstrate that they embrace and use technology effectively to attract the younger generations that make up much of the workforce now and in the future.  

Today’s candidates are looking for jobs online, often on their phones, and senior living organizations need to make it easy for them to apply as well as provide consistent, customized and timely communication.  This has the opportunity to differentiate a community from its peers and be on par with the non-traditional competitors.  

Candidates value speed in the hiring process, and the best ones will apply for multiple positions and likely receive multiple offers. To avoid losing them, senior living organizations need to move quickly to provide feedback, conduct interviews (often virtually), extend offers and communicate their value propositions. The best way to do this is by using applicant tracking systems that help screen out unqualified candidates early in the process and, where possible, use the Human Resource Information System or artificial intelligence to automate manual tasks.   

Senior Living Employee Recruitment

Once the hiring process is complete, here are four ways senior living organizations can focus their efforts on retaining qualified staff. 

  1. Match onboarding efforts to skill levels 

As new employees come on board with different technical skill sets and levels of technology knowledge, senior living organizations need to do everything they can to provide tailored training that demonstrates to each employee how important they are to meeting their goals. If a new hire is uncomfortable with technology, pairing them with a mentor who could guide them through the early days and be a reliable support mechanism in the future goes a long way in showing your support of the staff member.      

  1. Use technology to solicit ongoing feedback from staff 

There is no reason for senior living organizations to wait until exit interviews to learn where their staff felt dissatisfied. To foster a culture of continuous engagement, leaders need to ask for regular feedback from employees at all levels to understand their frustrations and be able to focus continuous improvement efforts. The best way to do this is through surveys where people can choose to be anonymous or not depending on their preference. When improvements are made, it’s important to share that with staff so they see that their feedback made a difference. To that end, surveys should not take place unless leaders are ready to initiate change. Otherwise, they risk staff feeling like their input doesn’t matter and can lead to a loss of confidence in leadership.  

  1. Focus on communication methods  

Most direct care, dining, facilities and sanitation employees do not have email addresses, so leaders need to consider how they will communicate important information to staff, as well as how staff can best reach their supervisors. Modern technology provides many alternatives to email, including texting, messaging apps, employee kiosks and mobile intranets. The best alternatives are case dependent, but the end goal is always the same – make sure staff feel connected with the larger organization at all times.

  1. Employ change readiness activities 

In a PwC study, 90% of C-suite executives feel their company pays attention to their staff’s needs when introducing new technology; just 53% of staff feel the same way. Ensuring appropriate communication, training and celebrations are key aspects to have in place so staff understand the benefit to them, associated timelines, and are adequately prepared and recognized when and after the change takes place.

Contact Hartman Executive AdvisorsSenior Living Employee workforce development 

From the very beginning, senior living organizations can help new hires understand that technology in place is to help them be successful, not to stress them out or get in the way.   

 As you think about building your workforce, think about all the ways and points along the path where employees engage with technology to support their business processes. Make sure you are meeting them where they are, helping them adapt, and engaging them in making it work better.   

Contact Hartman today to discuss the right approach for your organization.  

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