Staffing challenges force communities to get creative

Staffing-related challenges are leading senior living communities to turn away prospective residents or turn to temporary employment agencies to find workers, according to results of a recent Ziegler CFO Hotline survey. And they're also pursuing other strategies.

Almost 16% of the 155 single-site and multisite community chief financial officers who responded to the survey indicated that their communities have had to limit admissions in the past year because of worker shortages, and 53% indicated that they have used temporary employment agencies to fill direct care staff position vacancies. The vacancy rate for direct care staff positions averaged 11% and ranged from 0% to more than 35%, according to the CFOs. The average turnover among direct care staff was approximately 30%.

Other ways that senior living communities are recruiting and retaining staff, according to the CFOs, include:

  • Working with educational institutions to educate students about careers.
  • Hosting or attending job fairs.
  • Offering sign-on and referral bonuses and other financial incentives.
  • Increasing compensation for CNAs and RNs to be more competitive with hospitals.
  • Training current staff members to move into nursing positions.
  • Providing financial assistance for current employees who wish to pursue careers in nursing.
  • Paying a pool of CNAs and RNs increased compensation to fill open shifts as needed.
  • Maintaining staff-to-resident ratios that are attractive to potential employees and differentiate a community from competing employers.

Worker compensation accounted for 30% to more than 80% of the overall budgets of the communities at which the respondents work.

The Ziegler survey also revealed that CFOs are more worried about the Department of Labor's overtime rule, set to take effect Dec. 1, than they are minimum wage increases. Approximately 73% of respondents indicated that the overtime rule will have a moderate to significant negative effect on their organizations, whereas approximately 57% said that the minimum wage increases have had a similar negative effect.

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