How to retain and attract quality staff in aged care

Mary Baumann, Founder and Director, Find Aged Care

In this guest post, Mary Baumann, CEO and Founder of Find Aged Care, shares helpful advice on how employers and managers can better approach staff management.

We all want to be happy at work, and that’s probably the number one piece of advice I would have for any aged care provider striving to retain existing staff and recruit new staff. If your team is happy, residents will be too and business will thrive.

Here are some top tips from my 18 years of experience on how to retain existing team members and recruit high-quality aged care workers.

Reduce management administration burnout

Compliance, funding and the huge amount of paperwork now required in the management of an aged care home put a lot of pressure on the facility managers. Recognise and support this part of their role to be more streamlined, to allow more focus on strategy and leadership.

Lead by example – walk the floor

Managers don’t have the opportunity to regularly walk the floor of their homes. Head office can lead by example by visiting the homes to check in with their managers and suggest that managers schedule weekly times to walk the floor to check in with staff and residents and strengthen relationships and culture.

Mentoring programs

New and younger staff could benefit hugely from the learnings and experience of established team members. Formal mentoring programs raise the standard of the profession and retain high-quality staff. A ‘buddy system’ for new staff is an alternative to a formal mentoring program and ensures your staff always have someone to talk to and learn from.

Flexibility in care

Aged care systems and policies encourage structure, an important foundation, however, we are ‘people looking after people’. Allowing time for more than the operational tasks could benefit everyone. This might involve allowing time for a conversation with residents, or a personalised schedule for a resident. More flexibility in caregiving could create a more enjoyable environment for staff and residents.

Hands-on education

The benefit of education being delivered in person is invaluable. Staff in aged care work face-to-face, so it is important that their education reflects this. Bringing in external trainers or having in-person training, provides the opportunity for physical demonstrations and educates carers in their workplace.

Staff incentives

Formalised staff incentive programs are a great way to attract, engage and retain high-quality staff, and motivate positive behaviour. Clear achievable goals and KPIs should be set for each staff member providing the greatest incentive and opportunity to succeed. KPIs could including arriving at work on time, accepting vacant shifts, doing five kind things for another team member or resident during the month, or ensuring progress notes are documented correctly. Rewards could include time off, gift vouchers, or bonuses.

Staff suggestion boxes

Actively encouraging feedback from your team demonstrates that you value the input of your staff. Your staff are the ones on the ground, and they may have great initiatives about how to do things better or more efficiently.

Recruitment and reputation

Your reputation is a huge driver in attracting high quality, skilled workers and it is wise to review your recruitment strategy and your employer brand. Look at your home from the perspective of a potential new employee; what would they see as a benefit of working for you? What reputation are you displaying via your marketing? Do you have employee testimonials, images of your team, information about your culture on your website and marketing channels? This is vital to attract the right staff and requires a deeper strategy than placing a job advert.

Word-of-mouth in the aged care sector is a significant way for new employees find out about your organisation. This message begins with existing employees, so make sure it is positive.

What’s in it for you?

Staff generally work across more than one home, so if you have good culture, a good working environment and staff benefits, you are likely to have staff choosing to work at your home and you can select the quality staff you want.

Implementing these strategies will result in a happier workforce, you’ll retain high-quality staff – reducing recruitment and training costs, and residents will have consistency in their care. In short, everyone wins – you, your staff and your residents.

Editor’s note: One of Inside Ageing’s agenda topics is the workforce and for this reason, we aim to carry stories that highlight the opportunity of working in the aged care sector and how to improve outcomes by using technology, innovation and learning. There is also a free service for employers to advertise jobs.

This story is able to be shared or re-published without infringing our copyright.

Employers are encouraged to use it as part of their own marketing.

Sean – Inside Ageing


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