Senior Living Executive magazine recognizes OnShift for its generous support and thought leadership of Argentum’s 2016 Workforce Development programming.

Workforce Innovation in Practice I

Mark Woodka, CEO, OnShift f necessity is the mother of inven-

tion, then perhaps crisis is the well- spring of innovation and creativity. Recently, I participated on a panel on

proactive workforce planning at the Di- rect Supply Executive Operators Forum. I heard firsthand how healthcare leaders are delivering creative and effective solutions to today’s workforce problems. For senior living providers looking to per-

form at the highest levels and deliver con- sistent, quality care and service, the status quo is no longer good enough. Dealing with today’s workforce challenges is spurring in- novation in the way we recruit, engage, and manage labor.

Add students to your talent pipeline. Finding the right candidates is more crucial than ever, and yet recruiting high quality workers has become more difficult. But, I’ve seen many providers find new ways to fill their talent pipeline. Partnering with local high schools or

trade schools can be an effective way to find and develop talent. High school stu- dents can work part time while in school so that they become familiar with senior living. Eventually, they can shift into care or service roles. I know of a healthcare system that part-

ners with a local nursing school to build their pipeline of candidates. They recruit students who then intern at their buildings starting sophomore year. One benefit is that by the time graduation hits, they are well- trained and immersed in the culture of the community. They then easily transition into full- time positions.

Offer flexibility. One topic that has stirred a lot of discussion is the need to think beyond the traditional 8-hour shift. Consider how your potential

workforce could grow if you offered 2- or 4-hour shifts, which would be particularly helpful during peak operational times. Of- fering shorter shifts is an effective way to en- gage retiring or retired nurses or community leaders who want to make a difference, but require less hours.

Hire for multiple locations. Multi-site providers have an opportunity to share staff among communities that are in the same geography. I am seeing more of this in practice, from both regional and national providers.

Dealing with today’s workforce challenges is spurring in- novation in the way we recruit, engage, and manage labor.

To implement this strategy, managers

should look to hire staff for the organization as a whole, rather than for just one property. For example, care associates would be hired with the ability to be placed at any nearby locations, depending on what’s needed. It’s like creating a virtual staffing pool. This is a great strategy to optimize a workforce within a specific geography.

Talk to your employees. The need for qualified caregivers is project- ed to continue to grow as the populations ages. And with high turnover in senior liv- ing, maintaining consistent and stable staff is more challenging than ever. An innovative way to head off turnover is perhaps one of the simplest: just ask. Managers and supervisors should touch

base with each of their employees on a regular basis. If employees are considering leaving the organization, ask them to talk to


their manager first. Let them know they want to work with them to keep them happy. I met with one healthcare organization

that consults with clinical staff twice a year to specifically ask them if they are thinking of leaving. If yes, they work to develop a more personalized development and reten- tion plan. In addition, use data to analyze when employees are at most risk of leaving your organization. Managers should com- municate with employees especially during these times, so they can proactively inter- vene if necessary. Overcoming workforce issues requires a solid strategy and creative problem solving. Focusing on attracting, developing and en- gaging the right workers will pay dividends. Got an innovative workforce practice to

share? I’d love to hear it. Contact me at

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