80% of Senior Housing Providers Report Critical Worker Burnout, Shortages – Senior Housing News

Nearly 80% of respondents to a recent seniors housing industry survey reported that caregivers and hourly employees face critical levels of burnout and another 80% said that staffing shortages are the biggest issue they face.

OnShift, a Cleveland-based human management software company, revealed the results of its third annual Workforce 360 Survey earlier this month. 

In 2020, the biggest issue was hiring qualified candidates, according to the previous survey. That result was perhaps a precursor to the labor challenges facing industries across the globe.

“Post-acute care and senior living organizations are a vital part of our communities and [they] have overcome many intense challenges over the past 18 months,” said OnShift President and COO Ray Desrochers. “We have a chance to draw more people into our industry and retain our existing employees by catering to their interests and needs, providing support, and offering work flexibility.”

Staffing shortages have impacted clinical and financial operations. Indeed, 35% of respondents noted that they had to limit new admissions and/or move-ins as a result of staffing issues.

These results come as many operators are looking to improve occupancy rates within their communities following the Covid shutdowns of 2020. Those issues look like they will persist.

Survey highlights

The survey includes responses from more than 2,000 workers in senior housing including professionals from long-term care, senior living, and health care professionals. Here are the notable results at a glance:

  • 80% say there is a critical level of burnout
  • 79% are most concerned with staffing shortages
  • 75% had difficulty filling worker shifts consistently
  • 64% plan to offer bonus pay for working difficult shifts
  • 49% either have or are considering rewards/recognition programs
  • 89% indicated that DEI efforts were a priority for 2022 – 50% indicated it was a “high” priority

Such findings align with what senior living provider executives have reported in recent months, as pandemic-related labor woes have gripped the industry and economy at large. Among the specific recent actions that providers are taking, Lifespace Communities announced a $17 million increase in wages across the enterprise for 2022, Aegis Living is piloting an in-house staffing agency, and Vitality Living is adjusting wage scales and seeking to implement more creative benefits.

Recruit and retain

The labor challenge is not just in recruiting employees, it’s in keeping them. The survey shows that 83% of the respondents ranked talent retention as a “high priority” on top of the 77% who reported difficulties recruiting and hiring workers.

Those in the industry appear to understand the adaptations needed to recruit and retain talent. Nearly two-thirds of respondents said they already offer or they plan to offer bonus payments to workers who take on the most difficult shifts.

And almost half of the cohort reported that they have in place or are considering enacting various rewards and recognition programs within their organization as a way to engage and retain their employees.

Based on the results, it’s clear that those in the industry believe that inclusion will be important to prospective workers moving forward.

Heading into 2022, the survey appears to indicate a coming focus on diversity, equality, and inclusion (DEI) efforts within workplaces.

Companies are also thinking outside the box when it comes to who they’re recruiting. More than 70% of those surveyed are recruiting students. Beyond that, 34% said they are considering resident/patient family members as potential candidates, 28% are considering retirees, and 8% are utilizing gig workers.