High quality direct-care workers are essential to senior living organizations but, given their many employment options at similar salary points, they can be difficult to attract and retain.
In a recent survey, the American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL) reported that 94 percent of nursing homes and 81 percent of assisted living facilities face staffing shortages. Additionally, data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics tells us that long term care facilities have lost more than 400,000 employees from February 2020 to March 2022 – a number much higher than in other healthcare sectors.
Technology can help senior living organizations recruit, hire and onboard employees. However, if not managed correctly, it can also contribute to losing them. Leaders in senior living need to think about all the ways and points along the path where prospective and current employees will engage with technology.
The technology influence on workforce development begins in the recruiting process, extends throughout the hiring process, and is critical in both initial onboarding and continuous, two-way engagement with staff.
How Can Technology Improve The Recruitment Process?
Recruitment can be one of the costliest areas of business operations in the realm of personnel, especially if a senior living facility struggles to keep enough staff for any length of time and recruitment must be ongoing. However, technology can dramatically reduce both the burden and cost of recruitment to save time and money.
Ensure Your Website Application Forms Are Mobile Friendly
The vast majority of your applicants will want to apply online, and of these, a large number will choose to do so from a mobile device. Because mobile devices are smaller than computers and rely on unique perks like the ability to flip the screen between portrait and landscape orientation, your website applications must be mobile optimized and responsive, so they are easy to complete regardless of the device. If it is too challenging to apply online or via mobile device, qualified candidates will likely move on rather than struggle with a complicated website.
Utilize Social Media To Your Advantage
Most people participate on at least one social media platform and senior living organizations can meet direct care candidates where they are by joining them on these platforms. Even a basic social media strategy can improve the reputation of your organization as one that values modern communication methods. Some senior living facilities find it helpful to maintain a page or channel strictly for hiring that focuses on messaging to candidates instead of to caregivers of potential residents.
Provide Virtual Interviews
Gone are the days when a candidate is expected to come into the office for an interview. Virtual interviews are often preferred by both parties in terms of time management, and the most qualified candidates will be swept up quickly. The ability to offer a virtual interview on a variety of platforms could help secure you a top candidate.
Use Tech To Screen Candidates
Some positions will receive dozens or even hundreds of applications, and it is not beneficial for a senior living organization to have a team sort through them manually. Technology can help to filter out unqualified candidates early so that the hiring process is more streamlined and efficient.
Utilize Technology To Advance In The Hiring Process
Direct care candidates value speed in the hiring process, and the best ones will get other offers. Candidates want to know when their application has been received and reviewed, as well as where they stand in the interview and hiring process. Applicant tracking software can help senior living organizations quickly screen out unqualified candidates early in the process, as well as manage qualified candidates and speed up the hiring process.
Onboarding Is Not “One Size Fits All”
Using technology on the job is now standard for healthcare workers, yet everyone has a different level of comfort and familiarity with technology. Therefore, onboarding should be tailored to each individual as much as possible. Some new hires may need detailed, repeated guidance on how to use certain systems and software, and others may pick up those skills faster. Taking the time up front to onboard employees properly can set those employees up for success and make them feel welcomed, understood and part of the team.
Offer Virtual Training
Depending on comfort levels with technology, many aspects of training can take place virtually. This not only improves accessibility and reduces workflow slowdown but also ensures new hires can tackle the training at their own pace for a more thorough understanding.
Technology And Continuous Engagement
A new employee has been hired, onboarded and trained. Now what? The good news is that technology can help keep employees engaged with the organization on many levels. Workforce technology is constantly changing, and leaders need tools to communicate and manage those changes with the staff.
Address Communication Challenges
Unlike a typical office environment, the majority of employees in direct care do not have work email addresses or constant access to a computer. The challenge, then, is finding ways to communicate with employees on topics including open enrollment, upcoming events, annual training, system changes, and general business updates. One answer may be kiosks in break rooms with access to an Intranet. Secure apps, including ones for chat, scheduling and payroll, may also be appropriate depending on the situation and cybersecurity protocols.
Focus On Change Management
Nothing causes disruptive change like new technology, especially new software rollouts. For new technology to be successful, employees need to be engaged right from the start. Leaders need to help them understand why the change is necessary, what advantages, if any, it has for them, and why it is important for the organization.
Provide Feedback Surveys
Too often we hear about direct care workers who leave jobs because the technology is slow, difficult to use, or gets in the way of providing care. Senior living facilities invest too much in quality personnel to risk losing them by not listening to their concerns. Regular surveying can help leaders understand their employees and help meet their needs.
Speak With Hartman About Workforce Development In Senior Living
If you are intrigued by how technology can help attract and retain qualified direct care employees, it’s time to talk with the healthcare IT experts at Hartman. Reach out today to schedule a free consultation.