Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Thriving in the Coming Workforce Crisis

You might not be currently experiencing a workforce crisis in your company or community. With the current economy many people are worried about job security. They’re not looking at the want ads so much as being thankful for the jobs they have.

But even today we have unfilled caregiving positions nationwide. And the gap between trained, prepared workers and the positions we need filled is only projected to widen in the coming years.

The Institute on Medicine recently released a report of their 2 year study into the affects of the aging of America on the health care and senior care workforce.

Their conclusions are pointed: “Unless action is taken immediately, the health care workforce will lack the capacity (in both size and ability) to meet the needs of older patients in the future,” says the Institute, in a report titled “Retooling for an Aging America: Building the Health Care Workforce.

By 2030, the number of older adults will nearly double from the 2005 count, and will increase from 12 percent of the US population to nearly 20%.

Some of us are thinking – great! No more vacancies! We can even build more communities, and they will come!

But what about the staff? Who will be around to provide care in our very full communities?

It’s not like we have the problems of recruitment and retention solved in this field. In fact, many developers, owners and operators have been so focused on building and acquisitions it seems they’ve lost sight of the WHO: who is providing care; who is leading those who provide care, and who is caring for the people who provide care.

Focus on the WHO, and start positioning yourself NOW to become an employer of choice; a place where people will want to work, even when jobs are plentiful and hiring competitive. Here are some thoughts that can also help you position for success:

1) It’s all about training.
Are you just skimming by with compliance training? Are you expecting your administrators, nurses, or others who are not educators by training or skills to train the people who will deliver your service? If you’re not investing in your front line folks, they’ll be looking for another employer who will. Provide the best training you possibly can, and then let current – and prospective - employees know that you’re willing to invest in their growth.

2) Who’s Leading the Team? One of the strongest reasons to stay in a job is having friends at the workplace. One of the top reasons to leave? A supervisor who doesn’t understand, support or lead. Look for leadership skills in people you’re hiring for supervisory positions; train for stronger leadership in existing employees.

3) Celebrate your Team.
What do you do that is special for your employees? How do you celebrate their achievements, successes – how do you celebrate their birthdays and anniversaries? If you can’t list at least 5 things that you do that is unique and special, you’d better get busy. Your staff certainly will, with the want-ads in hand!

4) Invest in the Health of your Team. According to PHI, one significant factor to the upcoming worker shortage may be inadequate health care coverage for caregivers. It’s an incredibly expensive benefit, but the value may far exceed the cost of turnover for an employee group who recognizes the investment.

Watch this: the smartest companies in the field will be the ones who position NOW to become employers of choice. Then, when everyone else is advertising $1,000 hiring bonuses if you “come work for us!” they’ll be sitting pretty, with a strong, vibrant, well-trained staff.

1 comment:

Larry Wenger said...

Very good article. All the HR gurus tell us that as the economy improves, the turnover rate in human service organizations will return to earlier, higher levels. Because people are not leaving now, does not mean they are happy. We believe that having loyal employees means picking the right people in the first place, (and there is growing knowledge about how to do that) and having supervisors who have good people skills and area able to solve problems.

Larry Wenger, MSW
Workforce Performance Group