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Tough Workforce Challenges? Time To Practice Innovations

Mark Woodka


There is a unifying commitment senior living providers share with OnShift. That is to solve the workforce challenges facing the industry. Today, there is no greater challenge facing the industry than building the consistency in staffing needed for high quality resident care and service. This has been extremely difficult with the growing workforce shortage, high turnover rates and elevated employee burnout levels.  

However, what I love about working for this industry is that as new problems arise, so do new solutions.  As part of our commitment to serve the industry, I wanted to share some of the most effective strategies providers have recently implemented to recruit, hire and fill difficult shifts.  

Rethink & Restructure The Hiring Processes 

Job candidates are not on the market for very long. Nearly every senior living community has open positions they want to fill. Understanding that speed is a critical component to hiring success, providers are taking a deep look into their hiring process to identify areas that stifle candidate flow.  

These issues vary from organization to organization. Some providers have identified bottlenecks stemming from corporate recruiting teams taking an extended amount of time to review and hand off candidates to communities. Other organizations have experienced the opposite, as hiring managers within a community are unable to allocate the daily time needed to review and follow up with applicants.  

This was the case for a large senior living provider who recently restructured their process to expedite hiring by shifting more responsibility away from community hiring managers to corporate resources. To do this effectively and meet demand, they doubled the size of their corporate recruitment team. As candidates apply, it is now the corporate team’s responsibility to conduct interviews and administer background checks. Their goal is to quickly provide community hiring managers with at least two pre-vetted and qualified candidates. This has made the selection process easy and fast for community hiring managers. In fact, they report reducing time-to-hire to just 10 days.  

Creative Recruiting Targets Untapped Populations  

Optimizing the hiring process is just one component to be effective in today’s market. Another major challenge is creating a robust and active candidate pipeline. To achieve this, many senior living providers have extended their recruitment initiatives to engage older adults who have recently retired and may be open to part-time work. Providers have seen success in attracting new applicants from this population by connecting with local churches and faith-based groups, non-profit organizations with volunteer staff and local NAACP and LGBTQ+ chapters.  

Additionally, providers are reaching out to passive job seekers, those that may have previously applied or left their organization in good standing. One provider implemented a day-long hiring outreach campaign, reeling in more than 400 applications within 24 hours. In addition, they also invited 1,200 former employees that left in good standing to re-apply. This resulted in 12 job offers extended that week.  

Flexibility Is Key To Filling Shifts 

A key component to hiring success is providing more scheduling flexibility. Providers are offering greater variety in shift times and lengths to meet the needs of current and prospective employees. In addition, many providers have also created internal staffing pools used to fill shifts at neighboring communities and empower employees with the ability to easily request shifts.  

This article originally appeared in the September/October 2021 issue of Argentum Senior Living Executive.

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About Mark Woodka

Mark Woodka is CEO of OnShift and has over 25 years of experience in enterprise software sales and marketing, having worked for startup organizations as well as Fortune 500 companies. He often leverages his extensive background in technology-enabled process improvements speaking at industry conferences as well as authoring articles on long-term care trends and issues.

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