Recruitment Marketing|Senior Living|Thought Leadership|Trends|

Customized incentives, establishing a stakeholder mentality and, above all else, respect will help senior-living operators counter labor market headwinds.

“It May Be Time for Chief Happiness Officers in Senior Living” was the title of the 2018 article. Yes, 2018, well before COVID-19, the “Great Resignation” and quiet quitting. Employee satisfaction and retention were concerns long before the dips and detours of this decade, and seniors housing and care staffing remain a huge challenge for an industry that, as of 2016, needed to attract 1.2 million more workers by 2025.

Lument, which recently found that 62% of seniors housing survey respondents named staffing as the sector’s greatest challenge, set out to find ways to counter its labor struggles. Here are a few key strategies for attracting and retaining talent from the commercial real estate finance firm:


Whatever the industry, when it comes to managing people, the Golden Rule shines every time: treat others as you would want to be treated. That means respect, plain and simple.

Charles Turner, CEO of Kare, a staffing solution company for senior living communities, points to a disconnect between what operators think of as a strong culture and the view from frontline workers. The former operates in terms of mission statements, collective processes and a unified identity, while staff seeks individual respect, empowerment and “never to be treated like commodities,” Lument reports.

Kare found that around 70% of frontline workers are single parents and 35% have adult dependents, “making them caregivers at work and at home,” Turner noted. They deserve empathy and fair compensation.

To put their money where their mouth is, Turner suggests operators consider covering 100% of insurance premiums in exchange for a slightly lower pay. Kare also offers a “real-time pay” feature allowing staff to receive payment immediately after shifts are verified.

Actions yielding positive, personal, tangible results always trump vision statements. Show respect — and the money! — to retain talent.

Open Books, Open Paths

Transparency breeds trust. On the financial front, staff that are kept in the loop about a senior center’s performance are more likely to feel engaged and able to directly connect their work to fiscal results. It’s the substantial difference between merely punching the clock and having a stake in something bigger than self. As Lument reports, communities that offer staff bonuses based on monthly or quarterly performance further establish a sense of ownership across the company, which does wonders for staff morale and retention.

Openness works in another way, too: career advancement. Creating promotion pathways within senior living operations is an effective way to retain talent because it helps establish the staff mindset that good work will be rewarded.

Sevy Petras, CEO and co-founder of Priority Life Care, an Indiana-based seniors housing provider, reminds that there are plenty of expert needs in the industry in addition to nurses and thus many promotional routes, including in marketing and nutrition. Plus, caregivers can get burned out, which further underscores the need for good leadership to help reroute career paths as necessary.

“The days of finding the unicorn employee who wants to stay in that same seat for 20-plus years and do the same thing year after year are over,” said Petras, whose company has established a certification program at the community college level to help individuals and the industry alike. “It’s not a realistic expectation if we want to have top performance consistently.”

Vince Vitti, infinitee’s vice president of business development and the firm’s recruitment marketing guru, said, “Though we’ve yet to hire a Chief Happiness Officer, we are in the unique position of having marketed senior living communities in award-winning ways and helped recruitment marketing clients with their critical strategies. While the answers aren’t easy in this challenging labor market, combining the aforementioned staffing strategies with a time-tested marketing partner will position your organization in a good way.”


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