The Solution: Home Care & Senior Living Labor Shortage

Impending Labor Shortage: Home Care and Senior Living
Part 2 – Solution to Impending Labor Shortage


In previous blog posts we discussed the rapid increase in Baby Boomers requiring Nursing Home care in the next two decades and the impending labor shortage. 10,000 Baby Boomers celebrated their 65th birthday daily since 2011 and will continue to do so over the next 15 years. Considering the average person requires care around age 80, the big bubble for care demand is still a few years off but who is going to provide the care? Of course, it’s the Millennials!  


To attract and retain the Millennial worker, organizations have made major adjustments in management style, facilities, technology, job description and benefits. Organizational Silos and physical walls have come down and workplaces are increasingly collaborative. Work days are more flexible with un-tethered employees who work anywhere at any time.


Despite the radical changes in business to attract and retain millennials, a recent Gallup report “How Millennials Want to Work and Live” shows only 29% of Millennials are engaged – emotionally and behaviorally connected to their job and company. This means 7 out of 10 are disengaged. Further 16% are actively disengaged, “meaning they are more or less out to do damage to their companies” and 55% are not particularly engaged at work. Take a look at the chart below which compares Millennials, Gen Xers, Baby Boomers and Traditionalists.


Millennial Engagement at Work


Although the measurement of engagement between generations is not earth shattering, imagine being in the senior care industry not known for high tech devices, untethered work and modern office spaces. How will the senior living industry attract Millennials and provide an engaging work environment? Again just as the Management Gurus in the ‘90s told us, good business is reduced down to people to people (P2P) relationship building with both internal and external customers. In business, we have learned that most customers leave because of bad customer experience, not price – the same holds true for employees.


Sodexo, in its 2016 Workplace trends report states, “The persistently low employee engagement scores over the past decade or so could be attributed to the fact that the responsibility of employee engagement has traditionally been that of human resources. However, engagement can be impacted by every and any department in an organization. Seen from a broad vantage point, employee engagement becomes a core business strategy instead of an HR function.”


Beyond fair wages, well-being and work-life balance programs can help retain employees, however the most powerful retainage tool according to Sodexo is employee recognition. Recognition alone has the power to increase engagement by 20%.


“It can be challenging to effectively communicate with and recognize front-line workers and caregivers, however these employees play critical roles in company success and they express that communication from top-management is highly important to them. Because of this, organizations must prioritize reaching every employee. Technology is a helpful solution for this, but active and formal outreach through training, meetings and leadership development is another helpful avenue.”


In conclusion, perhaps the senior living industry is not so unique after all. In any business, employees must be treated fairly and managers must encourage and form relationships with front line workers also recognizing the workers for jobs well done.


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