Happy New Year! 2022 has come to a close and it is time to focus on 2023. COVID-19 turned nursing homes upside down and even though we are getting back to “normal”, we are still having difficulty with filling positions.
Our very own Cheri Kauset, Vice President of Customer Experience and Communication, sat down with a panel to discuss how nursing homes can rebuild its labor pipeline from the ground up. Cheri discusses the recruiting issues during and post COVID-19, how Mission Health is incorporating social media into recruiting efforts, incentives of being employed for a Mission Health community and more!
Q: What was the recruiting and retention landscape like prior to Covid?
A: If I had to choose one word to describe Mission Health’s pre Covid recruiting and retention landscape – I would choose the word – Traditional. The staffing market was what it was . . . and Recruiting and Onboarding tasks were attended to as needed. Empty position, post the job, find time to interview, hire – then onboard. The strategy and sense of urgency was more situational than constant. More reactive, than proactive. It was community centric with less home office oversight.
Post Covid – it’s was a whole new world. When we looked around for inspiration, we concluded that that the patient referral process was one of our strongest across the organization. Ingrained in process, held a high sense of urgency, had multiple staff at the ready to make decisions and move quickly to admit.
So, when we began to apply that kind of thinking to attract and retain staff . . . we began filling the pipeline more quickly and more consistently.
By adding recruiters, to ramping up statewide teams for virtual and onsite CNA/CMA training, to more formal mentorship programming with a rewards component, and developing career path opportunities that focus on certain skill sets like leadership soft skills – we found that staff became less afraid, more aggressive, and ultimately more successful with recruitment and retention initiatives.
Q: Partnerships with local high schools and colleges is a huge part of growing the staff pipeline too. What sorts of relationships does Mission Health have with its school districts to bring students in?
A: Partnerships are important and gives our communities a chance develop deeper meaningful relationships in their marketplaces. We have been more successful in our rural communities with local high school career centers and career centers, and in the more urban areas with community colleges and universities.
With the high schools, we have gone to them for job fairs and classroom discussions, and we have hosted luncheons and tours at our buildings. We share with them our free CNA and CMA education program that we host virtually with onsite classroom capabilities. We also share our communication app so they can see what kinds of programs, services, and fun we have as a community and company.
For the universities, we have helped drive traffic to job fair tables through a program called handshake. It’s a mobile app dedicated to helping students find jobs. Several universities have reached out to us about partnership and placement opportunities, too.
Q: The other side of the coin is retention. What incentives did you see work the best in 2022 for keeping staff?
A: We have seen that it has taken a layered approach. From developing a communication app for all staff, to longevity recognition, to adding virtual physical and mental health benefits, to offering a DailyPay option, to DiscoverU – a leadership career ladder education platform. We have made great strides with our mentorship program too – as part of our career ladder offerings.
PIPELINE AND STAFFING MANDATES
Q: How do you think CMS and the Biden administration should meet operators halfway, given the staffing mandate timeline?
A: Our teams are weary – yet they continue to rise to the occasion. Providing for complex residents with a shrinking work force. Through added regulations, Federal and State scrutiny, and reimbursement constraints. It’s hard.
The true compromise . . . together, let’s find solutions to rebuild and strengthen the long-term care workforce through a variety of staff recruitment and retention programs. There are amazing best practices out there – let’s leverage those, on larger scare, with funding that makes it possible. Our nation’s seniors deserve dedicated caregivers. It’s time to start investing in the frontline heroes who serve our most vulnerable population.
Q: How can campaigns like this capture purpose-driven generations well into the future?
We have seen that social media is an important arm to brand building. If we can capture the minds and imaginations of potential staff early on through social media, consistently share our CARES values (character, attitude, respect, excellent and service) and showcase Mission Health’s evolving culture – we can potentially create a friend for life. It’s an accessible and efficient way for our organization to connect to staff, their families, and neighborhoods. Supporting local relationships by showcasing the many sides of long-term care is good business. Raising awareness to care options, career opportunities, volunteerism, – social media offers us an active platform to act locally under the Mission Health global brand umbrella.